Dunraven Bay: Beach where people find human bones

Many people find a leisurely walk on the beach to be a calming experience. But what would you do if you encountered ancient human bones during one of these walks? This is exactly what happened to Christopher Rees from Bridgend. He was out with his dog and his 7-year-old son Dylan, walking along Dunraven Bay in the Vale of Glamorgan last October, when they stumbled upon bones sticking out of the sand.

Christopher recounted that his son, who is fascinated by history and loves museums, was eager to investigate the discovery. Dylan even thought the bones might be from a dinosaur. They picked up some of the fragments and took them back to the car, intending to keep them as a souvenir.

However, once they were home, Dylan proudly showed his mother, Sophie, their beach findings. She had her doubts, suggesting that they could be human remains. Christopher initially dismissed the idea, thinking it was more likely they belonged to an animal, but then started to second-guess himself. His sister has friends who are doctors and veterinarians, so he reached out to them through a group chat, seeking advice. It wasn’t until a Sunday dinner with his sister that her friends’ confirmation sparked concern. They believed the bones might indeed be human.

At this point, Christopher contacted the police, explaining where and how he had found the bones. The South Wales Police cordoned off the area and began their investigation, which lasted several days. A few weeks later, they confirmed the bones were ancient human remains.

Christopher shared this news with Dylan, who was thrilled to have made such a significant historical discovery. It wasn’t the first time that human remains had been found along this stretch of the Welsh coastline. In fact, just a few weeks prior, other suspected centuries-old bones were found in the same area after an ancient wall collapsed.

These ancient bones are likely from shipwreck victims from as far back as the 16th, 17th, and possibly even the 18th centuries. Historian Graham Loveluck-Edwards suggested that prehistoric cave burials and a 1st-century battle could also explain the presence of human remains along the coast. However, the most likely explanation was the shipwreck theory, as noted by Claudine Gerrard from Heneb, The Trust for Welsh Archaeology.

The Vale of Glamorgan coastline has a rich archaeological history. Many other finds have been uncovered, including prehistoric and Iron Age structures. In 2019, skeletal remains from at least six people, believed to be shipwreck victims, were found at Cwm Nash beach, just a few miles from Dunraven Bay. And in 2014, archaeologists found two human leg bones on a cliff at Cwm Nash. These discoveries highlight the complex and layered history of this region, where the sea has shaped both the land and the stories that are told upon it.

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