Brothers Hubert and Graham Smyth were setting a string of swinging boat moorings when they made an incredible discovery in 2015 at Fishbourne Beach on England's Isle of Wight: a human skeleton that experts are now saying is nearly 2,000 years old.
The almost complete skeleton was found in a fetal position with its knees bent and arms at its chest. No clothing or objects were found. Local officials collected the bones before the tide rolled in and examined them for any possible leads.
"My first job was to establish if this was a recently deceased person or something a little older—possibly from a long washed away graveyard attached to the nearby Quarr Abbey," coroner Caroline Sumeray told On The Wight. "If the body was recently deceased, I needed to rule out an unnatural death."
Basil Perdue, a forensic pathologist, used carbon dating to determine the age of the bones. Testing revealed the remains were those of a woman dating back to the Late Iron Age, between 28 and 90 CE.
"My lady is indeed a long time dead!" Sumeray told On The Wight.
Further examination revealed that the woman's upper left arm bone and left collarbone were shorter than those on her right side, suggesting that she may have suffered from a congenital deformity that caused muscle wasting on her body's left side.
The remains have been given to the local Isle of Wight Museum.
"They will be appropriately and ethically stored and recorded as per national guidelines for the treatment of human remains," Sumeray said in a statement to On The Wight. "I think that’s going to be the best place for her."