Ancient Britons 'ate each other'
Posted on: 02:12 PM IST Feb 16, 2011
London: Ancient Britons indulged in cannibalism -- in fact, they not only ate each other but also made cups and bowls from the skulls of their victims, a discovery has suggested.
A team led by the Natural History Museum has made the gruesome discovery of the remains of three humans in Cheddar Gorge. The remains, including that of a child, appear to have been killed for food, their bodies butchered and then eaten.
The bones showed precision cuts to extract the maximum meat and the skulls had been carved into cups and bowls for drinking, say palaeontologists.
The fragments, 14700 years old, are thought to be the oldest examples in the world of skull cups and the first evidence of ritual killing in Britain, 'The Daily Telegraph' newspaper reported.
What is particularly horrific is that at the time, humans knew how to bury their dead and so were not savages meaning the remains are most likely the result of premeditated cannibalism, says the team.
"At the time life was very tough. Cannibalism would have been a good way of removing groups competing with you and getting food for yourself. There was also a feeling that if you ate your enemy you gained some of his power," said Prof Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum.
At the time Britain was just emerging from the Ice Age and the cavemen -- believed to be Cro Magnons originally from France -- would have come to Britain from the Netherlands in summer, probably following animal herds migrating across land that is now the North Sea.
Just a few hundred strong, the hunter gatherers would have mainly lived off reindeer and horses but when times got tough it is believed they would have fought and eaten competing groups.