Stormy weather unearths human remains on island

GRIM DISCOVERY Burrow Island, off Gosport, where human remains were found.
GRIM DISCOVERY Burrow Island, off Gosport, where human remains were found.
Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson. Pictute: LPhot Ioan Roberts

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HUMAN remains have been unearthed on a tidal island after stormy weather washed away the sand which was covering their bones.

A member of the public spotted uncovered remains on Burrow Island, off Gosport, and alerted police.

FOUND A skull discovered at the site

FOUND A skull discovered at the site

Forensic archaeologists have now examined the site and discovered the remains of several people from the 19th century.

It’s thought they were either convicts or prisoners of war, as the island is known as a burial ground for people who came from floating prisons moored in the harbour.

Dr Nicholas Márquez-Grant, part of the forensic team that examined the remains, said: ‘Post-excavation work in our laboratories should contribute to shedding light on the living conditions of those individuals and the history of the island.

‘These types of projects highlight the value of bringing together a number of disciplines to reconstruct the past.

EXPOSED A skeleton

EXPOSED A skeleton

‘We certainly look forward to continuing this exciting project. Our small team of forensic archaeologists and anthropologists were privileged enough to provide an input into search and identification of human remains on site.’

Burrow Island, also known as Rat Island, is a tidal island in Portsmouth Harbour connected to Priddy’s Hard in Gosport.

It is owned by the Ministry of Defence, which sent in forensic experts to examine the human remains after they were discovered.

Some of the remains have been sent to heritage organisation Wessex Archaeology for cleaning and analysis.

It is hoped the examination will reveal the origins of the people buried there, as well as their ages, sex, stature, and any evidence of disease or injury.

Richard Osgood, senior archaeologist for the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, said: ‘It’s always exciting to be part of a rapid reaction force.

‘We were only told about it three days before we needed to get to the site and establish exactly what had been found.

‘It’s important to undertake proper stewardship of the cultural heritage of the MoD’s estate.’