The Foxearth and District Local History Society

The Hysterical Hystorian

For occasional articles, snippets and announcements by the Resident Historians.These articles are presented in date order, but if you explore the back-catalogue, you may find much of interest. Historical information doesn't really go out of date! Any member of the F&DLHS may add an entry or make a comment to an existing entry once they have got their userID and password from the Webmaster.

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Sunday, December 19, 2004

The Foxearth Skeleton

As mysteries go, the Foxearth Skeleton does not rank very high, I'm afraid. It is amusing to read about only as an illustration of how much more we can glean from the discovery of ancient human remains nowadays.

The Foxearth Skeleton was found on the edge of the Stour Valley between Liston and Foxearth, at Weston, during gravel workings in around 1905

The skull was submitted the skull to Prof. Charles Stewart, F.R.S., of the College of Surgeons, who pronounced it to be a fine specimen, probably very old. Later, he wrote expressing the opinion that it was "Ancient British". This must rank high in anyone's list of fatuous opinions.

Later on, most of the rest of the skeleton was found and excavated. Unfortunately there was no dating evidence. However, the excavator was sensible enough to present 'the skeleton to the Essex Museum of Natural History, so that it may be preserved for future study by some competent craniologist', an unsubtle dig at the competence of Prof. Charles Stewart, F.R.S. Somewhere in a museum probably lies a box that just might tell us the date of this burial, and thereby shed a bit more light on our local history.


Addendum 04/11/2020

there is now a plan for a Solar Farm on a large acreage near the site. The applicants for permission commissioned a historical and archaeological survey that runs to 100 pages pulled from the standard surveys. There is no mention of the skeleton or its immense significance for any archaeological appraisal of the site. The people who did the survey could have asked the local history society but didn't: They could have done an internet search. We'd have been happy to help and had already published this blogpost in 2004.

  I've field-walked most of these fields. There are plenty of signs of habitation on these north-facing valley slopes, some dating beck to the bronze-age.  Although solar panels would not seem as harmful to archaeology as housing, in fact, the panels have to be very firmly placed in the ground, up to seven foot deep so as to withstand the strong gales that we experience.

I enclose a PDF of  the original paper that describes the find, from the Essex Naturalist (XV (1908), pp.164-7).
Notes on a Human Skeleton, Found At Foxearth, Essex. By John M. Wood, M.I.C.E. Read November 30th, 1907.


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