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Bulletins Index

Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
1979 - April

Bulletin Index


J. Saxon

Recent storms revealed an ancient human internment in a thick layer of sand close beneath the cliffs at the west side of Clardon Haven, Caithness, map reference OS ND 16 157700.

Since it was clear that part of the skeleton had already been washed away it was decided to exhume the remainder.

The shaft of the left femur, which was freshly broken, and the lower part of the pelvis, were the only recognisable parts which were visible before the excavation was started. The skeleton was therefore carefully exposed with brush and trowel. The bones were stained dark brown and were very fragile.

The right femur was missing but its head was still in place in the acetabulum. The right ulna was also missing as were most of the bones of the hands. A few metacarpals were recovered. The rib cage had completely collapsed and the sternum was lying directly on the spinal column. The lower jaw had dropped open.

The shallowness of the pubic arch and the ovoid shape of the obturator foramen showed that the skeleton was that of a female. The almost total absence of supra-orbital ridges and of the supra-nasal prominence, together with the small size of the maxilla also led to the same conclusion.

The skeleton was of a small person and the fact that there were two tooth buds in the maxilla which had not yet erupted made it clear that the person had not attained maturity. The teeth in the lower jaw were, however, complete. There was no sign of dental decay and no evidence of wear on the crowns of the molars.

The body had been interred stretched out almost due north and south, with the feet towards the north. The hands had been placed one on top of the other over the pubis. No grave goods were found.