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Guernsey-medieval-porpoise-burial-perplexes-archaeologists

Taken from - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4898660/Guernsey-med...

  • The dig has been taking place at Chapelle dom Hue off the coast of Perelle
  • The unusual discovery is thought to date from around the 13th century
  • Porpoises were commonly eaten during medieval times by were not buried
  • There is no known religious significance to porpoises in the local region

Archaeologists excavating a historic religious retreat have found the grave of a medieval porpoise.

The unusual discovery, thought to date from the 13th century, was made after three weeks digging at the site off Guernsey. 

The team found evidence of a grave and unearthed a skull and other skeletal remains, but were left puzzled when it became clear they were not human.

Archaeologists excavating an historic religious retreat have found the grave of a medieval porpoise. Archaeologist Dr Phil De Jersey (right) and Mike Deane (left) alongside the trench

Archaeologists excavating an historic religious retreat have found the grave of a medieval porpoise. Archaeologist Dr Phil De Jersey (right) and Mike Deane (left) alongside the trench

WHY BURY A PORPOISE? 

Dr Philip de Jersey said it appears as if the animal had been buried with care, unlike a donkey skeleton they found which had been dumped in a hole after it died.

There is no known religious significance to porpoises locally, although they were eaten commonly during this period.

Based on the soil strata, it is from the same time as the rest of the dig area and had not been buried at a later date.

Experts located the grave due to a change in the soil and were perplexed when they released the remains were those of a juvenile porpoise.

They cannot understand why the porpoise, which was commonly eaten during medieval times, was apparently given a burial. 

The dig has been taking place at Chapelle dom Hue off Perelle, an island off the west coast of Guernsey.

Dr Philip de Jersey, a research associate at Oxford University who works at Guernsey Museum and Art Gallery, said he estimates that the skeleton, which was the first organic matter found on the dig, dated from the 13th or 14th century.

Dr de Jersey added: 'If we were in a church and we found something like this, based on the shape, we would think it was a grave cut.

'That is what puzzles me. 

'If they had eaten it or killed it for the blubber, why take the trouble to bury it?'

Dr de Jersey said it appears as if the animal had been buried with care, unlike a donkey skeleton they found which had been dumped in a hole after it died.

Based on the soil strata, it is from the same time as the rest of the dig area and had not been buried at a later date.

Dr de Jersey added: 'It was cut down from the medieval layer and we have found medieval pottery in the same film.'

Apart from two rat holes, the skeleton is well preserved, despite the soil having a PH level of 4.5.

The unusual discovery, thought to date from the 13th century, was made after three weeks digging at the site off Guernsey

The unusual discovery, thought to date from the 13th century, was made after three weeks digging at the site off Guernsey

The team found evidence of a grave and unearthed a skull and other skeletal remains, but were left puzzled when it became clear they were not human

The team found evidence of a grave and unearthed a skull and other skeletal remains, but were left puzzled when it became clear they were not human

It is the first piece of organic matter to be found on this dig and means it can be used to carbon date the bones to give a more precise date.

Dr de Jersey added: 'It has been a most unexpected finish to the dig.

'The way the burial has been treated is totally bizarre. I have never come across anything like this before.'

The bones have now been removed and will be studied by a marine expert to confirm further details.

Shown here is site of the Chapelle Dom Hue dig at La Capelle, Perelle, Guernsey. La Capelle is a rock within Guernsey and is nearby to La Rocque, Beacon Staff and Le Catioroc

Shown here is site of the Chapelle Dom Hue dig at La Capelle, Perelle, Guernsey. La Capelle is a rock within Guernsey and is nearby to La Rocque, Beacon Staff and Le Catioroc



Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4898660/Guernsey-med... 
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Comment by Elspeth on September 20, 2017 at 6:48am
I mean...a water creature in the ground. All very odd, when we don't know the purpose (no pun intended).
Comment by Elspeth on September 20, 2017 at 6:37am
I thought that. Strange to bury that kind of sea creature - but it means the people/person had access to it if they needed to visit..
Comment by Linda M. on September 19, 2017 at 10:17pm

The first thing I thought of, was a pet.  And we tend to bury our pets.

Comment by Elspeth on September 19, 2017 at 4:54pm

Well- what do you think?
Loved 'pet'.
Something unusual about the porpoise? One commentator questioned whether it was an Albino, which may have had religious significance for the inhabitants of the area.

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