Around 5,600 years ago a man died next to a wide meandering river, and over the millennia, the river changed, the landscape changed, but the remains of that man waited.

Until he was discovered by a modern day Mudlarker along the south bank of the Thames foreshore.

Dating from 3600BC this skull belongs to one of the earliest people discovered in the Thames. Only a small part of the skull has been recovered, just the frontal bone, but that has allowed researchers to determine that they were male, and over the age of 18.

Frontal Bone of Neolithic Skull (c) Museum of London

The find was initially handed in to the Metropolitan Police who commissioned radiocarbon dating of the bone, which has revealed that they died around 5,600 years ago.

DC Matt Morse at the Metropolitan Police, said: “Upon reports of a human skull fragment having been found along the Thames foreshore, Detectives from South West CID attended the scene. Not knowing how old this fragment was, a full and thorough investigation took place, including further, detailed searches of the foreshore. The investigation culminated in the radiocarbon dating of the skull fragment, which revealed it to be likely belonging to the Neolithic Era. Having made this discovery, we linked in with the Museum of London who were more than happy to accept the remain.”

The skull fragment will go on display in the ‘London before London’ gallery at the Museum of London and will sit amongst other Neolithic finds that have been discovered along the Thames foreshore.

Dr Rebecca Redfern, Curator of Human Osteology at the Museum of London, said: “This is an incredibly significant find and we’re so excited to be able to showcase it at the Museum of London. The Thames is such a rich source of history for us and we are constantly learning from the finds that wash up on the foreshore. We are grateful to the Metropolitan Police for their collaboration with us on this and are eager to welcome visitors to see this new discovery.”

Frontal Bone of Neolithic Skull (c) Museum of London

Mudlarking is a regulated activity, and you need a permit to dig along the foreshore, available here.

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