Story by Rory Sheehan
A PUBLIC appeal has been issued to discover more about the remains of a human skull discovered in a wooded area near Oswestry.
The mystery discovery, thought to have belonged to a male from a ‘tropical environment’ who died 50 years ago, was discovered on Sweeney Mountain on November 2 last year.
Sergeant Allan Crossley, of West Mercia Police, told an inquest opening at Shrewsbury on Wednesday, May 14, they believe the skull was taken to the site shortly before it was found and it was not buried.
He said: “We are appealing to the public for information as to how the skull got there, even if the person it belonged to did not die in the local area.
“Someone has taken it to Sweeney Mountain and there is a possibility, however slight, that someone might remember anyone matching that description going missing in the area around 50 years ago.”
A pheasant shooting party made the shocking discovery when a dog returned carrying the cranium.
Sergeant Crossley continued: “We conducted an extensive search of the area but our police dog did not find any other bones there and the jaw of the skull is missing.”
He added forensic anthropologist Dr Julia Roberts had described the skull as ‘pale, dry but not weathered’.
“It does not look like it has been on the surface for very long and does not look to have been buried, but placed there recently,” he continued.
“Our best estimate is that the person died between 1955 but before 1963 and was aged 25 to 40 years-old.
“There are indications that it is male and not caucasian. Going from the DNA profile it is possibly African Caribbean, certainly from the southern hemisphere consistent with a tropical environment, not northern Europe.
“The teeth are unusual, very flat, worn with twisted symmetry in the upper jaw, consistent with a chewing disorder, and they were possibly on a fish-based diet.”
North Shropshire Coroner, Mr John Ellery adjourned the inquest to August 14, anticipating the findings of a soil sample and any other information that may yet come to light, before it is closed.
l Call Shrewsbury police station on 101, Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or www.crimestoppers-uk.org