Walker tells of finding 4,000-year-old remains of child on island beach


A WALKER has told how she went for a walk on the beach – and discovered the tragic remains of a child who died 4,000 years ago.

The child – who was around 10 years old – was buried on an Orkney beach about the same time as the pyramids were being built in Egypt.

Remarkable pictures of the subsequent excavation of the grave show how complete skeleton was carefully removed the site on Sanday.

Mystery remains about how the child died and even whether it is was a boy or girl.

The shocking discovery – dating back to the early neolithic period – was made by tour guide Carrie Brown, 32.

She was on a stroll with her partner, Ali Thorne, 34, to look at a rock they hoped could be a burial stone but got more than they bargained for.

Carrie said: “The reason we were there was due to a stone we saw before Christmas time. We thought it might have some runic writing on it.

“We noticed what looked like ribs sticking out of the sand. Three or four ribs were exposed.

“I thought it was human, or a very much hoped it was.

“We told the local archaeologist who quickly has a look and said it was.”

She continued: “We regularly go on beach walks. Orkney is a great place for archaeology – I’ve always been interested in it.

“I knew it wasn’t the correct thing to do to dig further. I would have been slightly nervous.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting to find human remains.”

Carrie made the discovery last Tuesday and after the skull was exposed by the local archeologist Historic Scotland were called to the scene.

Expert archaeologists worked on the site for several days and on Monday the remains were fully removed for carbon dating.

Carrie said: “They gave me an approximate date of around 3,000 to 4,000 years old. A child between the age of 10-12.”

She believes winter storms are the reason why now, after 4,000 years, the child was found now.

“There have been heavy storms here over the last few month,” she said. “Things get covered up then uncovered.

“There is a fair chance there is more.”

The remains of the child appear to pre-date the one of Orkney’s most important archaeological finds – uncovered on the same island after storms.

In 1985 after a local farmer found a number of bones jutting out from an exposed sandbank.

Several years later after the site was excavated a 6.5 meter viking long boat was uncovered alongside the human remains.

Items including an iron sword, a quiver containing eight arrows, a bone comb and a set of 22 gaming pieces were found to date back to between 875 AD and 950 AD.

Evidence of human occupation of the remote Orkney Isles appears at around the fourth millennium BC.

By this time the bands of hunter-gatherers of the Mesolithic had gradually evolved into a agricultural society.

Groups of farmers made their way across the Pentland Firth from Caithness and western Scotland to settle in the fertile northern islands.