Back in May, a Lancashire couple, Mick and Elaine Bell, found a human skull in a shallow section of the Burnley River while out walking their dogs.
They gave the skull to the police, who initially suspected that rain had washed it down from a nearby cemetery. But as forensic experts examined it, they grew puzzled. The features of the skull indicated the person had been a man who was either an Australian aboriginal or from a South Pacific Island. How had he ended up buried in Lancashire?
Elaine Bell with the skull
Carbon dating the skull produced no results. Initially the scientists thought this was because the bone was fossilized, but after subjecting it to chemical tests, they realized it was a fake, cast from a real skull.
The mystery deepened because it was a really good fake much better than the kind that are typically commercially available featuring details such as a fracture, incision marks indicating a pre-death operation, and signs of infection around the nose and mouth.
Currently, the police still don't know what substance the skull is made out of, nor how long it was in the river. Det. Supt. Charlie Haynes offers their best guess about what this thing is: "In the early 1800s skulls from Papau New Guinea were collectable - which ties in with the features of this skull. It may be a very accurate replica of a collectable."
The question is, why would someone have buried a very expensive fake skull? Perhaps it was buried back in the 19th Century by someone trying to perpetrate an archaeological hoax?
Links: Lancashire Telegraph
, Burnley Express