Human skull found in Hapton woods by dog walkers
POLICE launched a probe after a couple walking their dog found a human skull in a river.
Elaine and Mick Bell made the grisly discovery in Spa Wood, close to the former Hapton colliery.
It has now been sent to a forensic pathologist for tests and carbon dating to find out how old it is.
Police did not find any other bones and said the skull had been there for some considerable time.
Elaine initially thought the skull was a football floating in the Habergham Brook, but when her husband got closer they reaslied it was something more sinister.
Mick, a retired carpet maker who worked at the former Stalwart Dyeing Company, in Clitheroe, said: “We were out walking our dog William when we found it.
“I saw it and I said to Elaine, ‘look, there’s a skull in the water’, but she thought it was just a football.
“I took a couple of steps into the river and picked it up. I could tell it was a skull as soon as I saw it.”
The couple, of Valley Gardens, Hapton, have been walking their dogs in the woods for 23 years but said they had never seen anything like it before.
They believe the skull may have belonged to a miner and was washed into the river from a disused mine after several of days of heavy rain.
Hapton Valley Colliery was mined from the 1800s until it closed in 1981.
It flooded three times - once in 1957, again 1962 - when 19 men died - and again in 1964, when flood water burst through the old Spa Pit shafts, sending millions of gallons of water into the workings.
Mrs Bell said she was now interested in finding out more about how the skull had ended up in the stream.
She said: “We were just doing our normal walk when we found it.
“I was amazed - we brought it back to the house and showed it to our neighbours, they were very shocked.
“I would like to find out more about it and find out a bit of its history.
“If it is something to do with the mines, it might put somebody at peace.”
Detective Inspector Dave Groombridge, from Pennine CID, said: “I can confirm we have found a human skull which is now undergoing forensic tests.
“At this stage I do not believe there to be any suspicious circumstances relating to the find.
“The skull has now been sent to a forensic pathologist to undergo carbon dating and it is my understanding these results will take a couple of weeks.
“Once we receive these results we will decide if a finger-tip search of the area is appropriate.”