A new study that examined cut marks on bones in order to distinguish between cannibalism and ritualistic defleshing practices have determined that a very morbid feast took place 15,000 years ago in Gough's Cave near Bristol in England. The researchers wanted to find out whether the butchered remains of adults and children were the result of a funerary ritual, human violence, or a desperate attempt to survive hard times.
Gough’s Cave, which is 115 meters (377ft) deep and 3.4 km (2.1 miles) long, was first excavated in the late 1880s and has been extensively researched since then. Within the cave, scientists have found numerous human and animal remains with clearly visible signs of butchery. The human remains belonged to around 5 or 7 people, including a three-year-old child and two adolescents. All of them had cut-marks and breakage consistent with defleshing and eating. Moreover, some of the skulls had been transformed into ornaments known as ''skull cups'', which were used as drinking vessels.
A skull found in Gough’s Cave (public domain)
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