Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Marrow Meals Volume 54 Number 3, May/June 2001
by Kristin M. Romey

While the British have never been known for their culinary skills, a recent discovery in a Gloucester cave may even make aficionados of mushy peas take pause. According to Bristol University archaeologist Mark Horton, 2,000-year-old human remains found by local cavers, including a femur that had been split and its marrow scraped out, provide the first "irrefutable evidence" for cannibalism in northern Europe.

The area was an important center for underworld cults during the later Iron Age, and a Bristol excavation team believes that the site may also have been the scene of mass human sacrifice. The remains of at least seven other victims, some possibly disfigured or disabled, show evidence of murder.

Only five percent of the cave has been excavated so far, but Horton anticipates that more than 50 victims will eventually be uncovered.

© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America