Tides Turn Up Child's Bronze Age Remains; Race against Time as Erosion Threatens Our Archaeological Sites

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Byline: By Tony Henderson Environment Editor

HIGH tides and winds that have battered the Northumberland coast served up a burial mystery for archaeologists yesterday .

Erosion by the sea and weather has revealed what seems to be the remains of a Bronze Age child, which have emerged from the coastal edge at Druridge Bay.

But what perplexed archaeologists yesterday was a layer of hard white material which appears to have been moulded around the body, like a casing.

"I have never seen anything like this material. It has obviously been applied deliberately and it is intriguing and baffling," said Sara Rushton, Northumberland County Council archaeologist.

The burial had been purposely cut into a layer of peat which has been dated to between 3780BC and 1000BC.

The same vicinity has produced other examples of prehistoric burials falling onto the beach because of erosion.

Last week, The Journal reported how a two-year survey of the entire North-East coastline is starting because of the threat to archaeological and historic sites from climate change and coastal erosion.

The latest find was made by Keith Hartnell, who was filming a DVD about the new Northumberland Coastal Path for the Northern Heritage company which he set up in 1991, but which is now run by his son, Chris.

Keith, who lives in Longhorsley, wanted to include material on the previous Bronze Age coastal burial discoveries on the 64-mile path in the DVD, which is due out on December 3.

He said: "I was following the ancient peat layer along the cliff edge when I saw something which was bright white, and below that, a rib cage emerging from the cliff face.

"The stormy weather had broken off the edge of the burial chamber and you could see the rib cage and backbone of what looked like a child. My concern was that it could disappear with the following tides. …