THREE undergraduate students from Bournemouth University have discovered remains of a human sacrifice victim from the Iron Age in Dorset.

The remains were discovered in Winterborne Kingston in 2010, but the team has only recently uncovered more details about the body. 

These findings allowed students and staff at the university archaeology department to piece together her life and death, deducing that the young woman was most likely brought into the tribe as an outsider and was killed by a blade incision to her neck. 

The peer reviewed study has been applauded for its pioneering research in evaluating ritual killings which took place in the Iron Age. 

Their investigation has also developed research into life for less fortunate members of society over two centuries ago. 

Degeneration in the spine confirmed the victim lived a life of exertion from regular hard work, and DNA analysis is currently being conducted on isotopes in her teeth to determine whether the victim came from another tribe. 

Although this mode of death has often been speculated, these findings provide a narrative for the context of what their research paper called a community-sanctioned murder. 

Dr. Martin Smith, as associate professor in forensic and biological anthropology at Bournemouth University, has been at the forefront of this research. 

He said: “In the other burials we have found, the deceased people appear to have been carefully positioned in the pit and treated with respect, but this poor woman hasn’t.”

Mr. Smith said that “being able to humanise the story of this woman’s life has given us a valuable glimpse into the other side of Iron Age society.”

“Behind every ancient burial we find is someone's story waiting to be told.”

Dr Miles Russell, principle academic in archaeological fieldwork, says the reasons for these sacrifices is unclear, but was most likely a way to get Gods on side during a period of political uncertainty or extreme weather by sacrificing a lowly member of society. 

Dr Russell said: “Animal sacrifices have been found in pits, but this body took the offerings to a further extreme.”

Further excavations will take place in the coming weeks, which Dr Russell referred to as “a rather macabre jigsaw puzzle”.