Video: West Wittering skull burial ceremony

A BUDDING historian who discovered part of an ancient skull at the beach has returned to pay his respects at the burial.

Sawyer Clarke-Smith, seven, from Bath, discovered the skull at West Wittering beach when out walking with his grandparents.

An internment took place during a special burial in West Wittering

An internment took place during a special burial in West Wittering

Experts from Chichester District Council believe the skull might be that of a French male prisoner, or a soldier at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.

“Sawyer was out walking and spotted an unusual shape in the sand,” said PCSO Rosie Bainbridge.

“He has such an inquiring mind – some children, even me – might have never picked it up. He took the trouble to look into it a bit deeper.

“Sawyer really wanted to keep the skull as a trophy, but when he found out he couldn’t he wanted to come back for the interment.

“His enthusiasm has rubbed off on his class mates back in Bath, and the class want to start a project about the battle.

“He’s obviously a very bright and interested boy.”

The interment took place on Friday, May 3, in the churchyard of St Peter and St Paul, attended by Sawyer and his grandparents. The ceremony, conducted by The Reverend Jonathan Swindalls, will be recorded in the church records.

James Kenny, archaeology officer at Chichester District Council, said: “These prisoners of war were kept in hulks (old warships) moored around the coast.

“Those who died would be buried in the mud often with little ceremony, as the local authorities would not want to pay for elaborate funerals.”

Initial investigations found the bone was not suspicious.