Skull found in Staffordshire could be 14,000-years-old

The skull may be even older than the 10,000 years originally believed by scientists. Credit: BPM

A woman's skull found in gravel pits in Staffordshire may be even older than the 10,000 years originally believed by scientists.

A mammoth tooth discovered close to where the skull, dubbed Greta, was also uncovered, suggesting it may be at least 14,000 years old. That would make it the world's oldest female skeleton.

Greta was unearthed in 1943 at Branston Credit: BPM

Greta, unearthed in 1943 at Branston went missing more than 40 years ago following the closure of Burton upon Trent Museum where it was displayed.

But it was recently rediscovered by enthusiast David Adkins. It was locked away and gathering dust at Stoke's Potteries Museum.

Greta is currently being examined at the Francis Crick Institute, a London biomedical research centre - and will feature in a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary.

David, a community centre manager from Burton, said: "I went back to the paper records and found buried in the archive an account of a mammoth tooth that came from the same location after Greta was found. If the tooth was one of the grave goods in Greta's grave, she could be over 14,000 years old, pushing her back in time to the Palaeolithic or Early Stone Age."

If correct, Greta is three times as old as Stonehenge.

"This would be incredible, I don't know of any other complete skulls of men or women from this period... I have always believed she is the greatest anthropological find in Britain of the 20th century... She has caused a media whirlwind and has become famous here in Burton. People are talking about her in the corridors of power and in the backstreet shops, which is wonderful. She belongs to everyone and is part of all our histories."

David Adkins, Burton Community Centre Manager

Greta will soon be moved from the Crick Institute to Durham University where tests will be carried out to find out exactly where she lived.

David added: "I think mankind's quest for the Holy Grail is, in reality, the search for who we are, where we came from and how we came to be as we are. Greta will soon reveal her secrets."