Dunraven Bay: Historian and expert explain why human bones are regularly discovered on this beach

On a bay in the UK, walkers regularly come across human bones. How to explain these dismal discoveries? There are several competing theories.

Human bones Dunraven Bay
© Ian Cylklowski / Unsplash
Human bones Dunraven Bay

In October 2023, Christopher Rees, 39, was out walking in Dunraven Bay (Wales) with his dog and son, Dylan. The walk was nothing special at all... until Dylan, his son, spotted some strange objects in the sand. As it turned out, they weren't fossils or bits of wood, but rather... human bones. Fearing he had stumbled upon a crime scene, Christopher Rees contacted the authorities. He then learned that other people had found the same type of bones in the area... and that these remains belonged to people who died centuries ago!

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Bones dating back at least to the 18th century

Reporting on the incident, the BBC explains that, at first, Christopher didn't know they were human remains, He also explained that Dylan was quite excited by the archeological discovery:

Dylan loves learning about history and going to the museums, so he was excited to see what it was,

At first the little boy thought that the bones would end up being dinosaur bones and so, the two decided to bring the remains home.

That's where Dylan, proud of his discovery, showed his mother. Quite quickly the woman had some suspicions: the bone didn't look like an animal.

that looks like human bones', and at first, I didn't think much of it as I thought it may have been an animal bone, but then I started to question myself
My sister has a few friends that are doctors and vets. So the group chat was in full swing and it was only a few days later during Sunday dinner that I was speaking her and she said 'yeah it looks like a human bone

After confirming that it was indeed a human bone, she began to feel uneasy. Christopher also now worried about what he had let his son do:

I panicked. I wondered what I'd gotten myself into.

Fearing that they had been drawn into a murky murder case, Dylan's parents contacted the police, who searched the area of the discovery. As for the bones, they were analyzed by experts. According to scientists, they belonged to humans who lived between the 16th and 18th centuries.

Dunraven bay, a good place for shipwrecks?

It's not the first time such discoveries have been made in Dunraven Bay, according to the BBC. But how to explain this concentrated presence of human bones?

According to historian Graham Loveluck-Edwards, there could be two explanations. Either they are the remains of people buried centuries ago in the same place. He specifically explains that 'people in the area would often inter their dead in caves.' Over time the bones resurfaced.

The other explanation put forward by the historia is that the bones discovered could belong to victims of successive shipwrecks. He told BBC News:

We also have archaeological evidence of a pitched battle that took place near here in the 1st Century.

Claudine Gerrard, from Heneb, The Trust for Welsh Archaeology also spoke with the BBC and added:

Human remains were often washed ashore following shipwrecks, and were buried in the nearest available place

She also specified that the bones found in the area could both be from prehistoric as well as modern times.

BBC News concluded by reporting that in 2019, archeologist discoveries were made 'along the Vale of Glamorgan coast' - that is just a few kilometres away from Dunraven Bay. Human legs were also found in that area in 2014.

This article has been adapted from Gentside FR.

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Sources used:

BBC: The beach where people keep finding human bones

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