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Home > teachers > Science and Technology  > Found: Oldest Human Brain In Britain

Found: Oldest Human Brain In Britain

December 12 2008

You're looking at a human skull containing the oldest brain in Britain.

Dr Richard Hall, Director of Archaeology at York Archaeological Trust, says the skull and its brain are over 2,000 years old and date back to 300 years BC. This time in history is known as the Iron Age (800BC - 43AD).

Showing a scan of an Iron Age skull. The eye sockets, nose and some of the remaining teeth are visible.

This image of the skull is actually from one of the scans taken at York Hospital.

©York Archaeological Trust.

The scan here on the right shows a cross-section of the skull. Can you see the darker bit inside the skull? That's what's left of the brain.

©York Archaeological Trust.

Scan showing a cross-section of the Iron Age skull. The top of the skull looks open and the remaining bit of brain shows up as a darker blob.

The skull was found in a York Archaeological Trust dig at the University of York.

Finds officer, Rachel Cubitt, says she, 'realised that there was something moving, something loose inside the skull.' It turned out to be the remains of the brain and looked like a yellow substance.

Now York Hospital has scanned the skull and brain, skeletal experts are going to try and discover more about the person who died. We'll update you as soon as we have any news...

In the meantime, why not check out:
Show Me's Ancient Civilisations Topic Page for loads of info and games.

Showing a photo of the part reconstruction of a face from an Anglo-Saxon woman's skull. Clay has been used to build up the layers of muscles but the top of the skull is still visible.

And if you want to know how scientists can work out what someone looked like just from their skull, take a look at our Anglo-Saxon Face Comes Back To Life story.

It shows the reconstruction at Corinium Museum in Cirencester of the head of an Anglo-Saxon woman. Here's her face on the way to being reconstructed.

© Corinium Museum.

The Anglo-Saxon period of history is later than the Iron Age. Its dates are AD410-1066. You can find out more on:
Show Me's Anglo-Saxon Topic Page

Have you ever visited a dig or ancient site? Get in touch - we'd love to hear from you here at Show Me.

Rachel Hayward