‘4,000-year-old’ skeleton found near Emsworth could have been Bronze Age ruler

The Racton Man
The Racton Man

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A 4,000-YEAR-OLD Bronze Age skeleton found buried near Emsworth could have been one of our early rulers who died in combat, scientists have found.

So-called ‘Racton Man’, who was found at Racton Ruins between Emsworth and Westbourne, has been the subject of months of research during which his teeth, bones and dagger were analysed.

It is now believed he was probably a tribal leader aged 45, from the very beginning of the Bronze Age.

Analysis of his bones by the London Institute of Archaeology suggests that he was 6ft and suffered spinal degeneration – thought to be age-related.

They also found he suffered from a chronic sinus infection, as well as an abscess and tooth decay.

A cut to his right upper arm suggests he was trying to protect himself from a blow, which has led scientists to believe the dagger was not just for display.

Bronze Age specialist, Dr Stuart Needham, said: ‘What makes his dagger so stunning is the rivet-studded hilt.

‘Its design is distinctively British, but of greater significance is the fact that it dates to the transition from copper to bronze metallurgy.

‘This dagger is bronze and so this item would have been incredibly rare at the time.

‘Its colour and keen hard edge would have distinguished it from the more common copper objects in use.

‘We don’t understand the social structure of this time, but he would have been a very prominent member of society, someone of great seniority.’

Chichester District Council archaeologist James Kenny discovered the skeleton in 1989. He said: ‘The results from the research are staggering.

‘We’re in a privileged position because we have all of the facts to hand – from the original excavation to the scientific analysis that has just been carried out.

‘This is very rare for burials around this period.’

Racton Man is on display at Novium Museum Chichester. Go to thenovium.org.