A COUPLE in Dorset were given a shock when they discovered an old human skull outside a church in Wareham.

Clive and Pat Cherrett found the skull at Lady St Mary’s Church on Church Green at around midday on Friday July 11.

The skull had been carefully wrapped in tissue paper and placed in a bag before being left outside one of the church doors.

Clive, a verger and fabric officer for the church, was doing a routine check of the building when he came across the item.

The skull was in a plastic carrier bag. Clive went to dispose of it before noticing the weight of the item inside.

After removing the tissue paper, Clive noticed the skull and brought it to Pat’s attention.

Pat said: “It gave us both a start. When I looked, I just said, ‘I don’t want to see that, thank you.’ Just looking at it wasn’t that pleasant.

“Once we realised it was an old skull it wasn’t so bad.”

The police were called immediately and sealed off the area. A scientific investigation determined the skull to be old. It has since been taken away for further testing.

The skull may have been outside the church for more than 24 hours before being discovered.

Dorset Police is now appealing for information.

Detective Constable Michelle Lawrence, of Bournemouth and Poole CID, said: “The skull appears to be very old and we are not treating this incident as suspicious at this time.

“We simply would like to identify where the skull originated from and to clarify in what circumstances it was found.

“Some houses near to church were built on parts of the old cemetery nearly 100 years ago and it is feasible that the skull may have been dug up in someone’s garden.

“The person who found it may have wanted to do the right thing and left it at the church.

“I urge anyone who has any information about this to contact the police – we would just like to ascertain exactly what has happened.”

Witnesses and anyone with information should call Dorset Police in confidence on 101 quoting incident number 11:171. Alternatively, call the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 where mobile phone tariffs may apply.