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Why human bones are being washed up at Shotley

PUBLISHED: 07:30 30 March 2019

The jaw, complete with some teeth, was dated and identified as being more than 100 years old by the Suffolk Archeological Service Picture: HANNAH DEBHAM

The jaw, complete with some teeth, was dated and identified as being more than 100 years old by the Suffolk Archeological Service Picture: HANNAH DEBHAM

HANNAH DEBHAM

Shotley has become an unexpected hotspot for beachcombers who as well as finding shells and pebbles have also been unearthing human and animal remains.

Shotley Pier extends into the water in the missle of a stretch of beach often the site of strange finds by beach combers  Picture: RACHEL EDGEShotley Pier extends into the water in the missle of a stretch of beach often the site of strange finds by beach combers Picture: RACHEL EDGE

The coastal settlement, with its picturesque beach, pier and marina, is uniquely positioned between the River Stour and the River Orwell - and two international shipping ports at Harwich and Felixstowe.

The bustling estuary, which is steeped in history, has recently become a hotspot for beach combers, some of whom have unearthed some astonishing finds.

Among the most interesting artefacts to be found in recent times was a wonderfully preserved jaw bone, complete with teeth, on the beach in 2015.

The find was made by Trimley St Mary resident Hannah Redmond, who said: “The jaw bone was a very strange experience, you don’t expect to find human remains on the beach.”

Shotley and Harwich in the distance, one of two busy ports along with Felixstowe that disturb resting remains on the seabed Picture: JIM TANFIELDShotley and Harwich in the distance, one of two busy ports along with Felixstowe that disturb resting remains on the seabed Picture: JIM TANFIELD

The bone was shown to be more than a century old by the Suffolk Archeological Service.

“He did have very good teeth though - well, what was left of them considering he’d been in the mud for about 100 years.”

She claims she has found more than 300 fragments and sections of animal bones - potentially from livestock lost in the harbour.

“We’ve found pig jaws, cow vertebrae, sheep skulls, deer skulls and various other bones,” said Hannah.

Shotley, in Suffolk, became a tourist location in the 1950s after World War II and it's use as a naval base. It is now the home of the HMS Ganges Picture: MICK WEBBShotley, in Suffolk, became a tourist location in the 1950s after World War II and it's use as a naval base. It is now the home of the HMS Ganges Picture: MICK WEBB

“It’s very strange as the bones aren’t found all along the beach, it’s just specific points.”

The regular dredging of the shipping routes opposite Shotley has resulted in loose sediment from the process shifting in the water and washing up around the marina, pier and coastal paths.

Usually it comprises of nothing more than rock, mud and silt, but there have been plenty of surprises washed up over the years.

Shotley, Ipswich, Felixstowe and Harwich all have nautical history dating back as far as the Vikings in the 9th century and records indicate that as many as 16 Viking ships were sunk in the vicinity.

The men were slain by King Alfred in 885AD, with the site of the supposed massacre named Bloody Point.

The channel was also used during the Napoleonic Wars in the 19th century, with prisoners of war forced to labour in the region after the wars ended.

If bones of a human are found they have to be dated and, if the results show that they are less than 100 years old, Suffolk Constabulary will launch a police investigation into the discovery.

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