Tomb of the Otters

A three week dig in March 2011 by the ORCA team recovered a wealth of human remains as well as samples for DNA analysis. Leading the team was Dan Lee, projects officer who explained 'our main priority was to excavate into the western cell and see whether we could find any skeletal remains inside'.

The west cell was cut into bedrock and had been lined with interior walling. As they worked down through the layers, recording everything very meticulously, they were dealing with an incredible assemblage of disarticulated human bones. All parts of the human skeleton were represented, including tiny bones such as finger bones, sternums, kneecaps and skulls covering all age ranges from very young children, perhaps babies to adults. It is hoped that dates can be obtained from the final closing deposits and from the earliest burials in the west cell. There were seven separate layers in total containing 2,000 human bones including otter skulls and bones. Large quantities of otter spraint were found in all seven layers showing that the tomb had been left open allowing Otters to come and go as they pleased.