Police probe after human skull is found in Burnley river

GRISLY FIND: Mrs Elaine Bell with the human skull found at Spa Wood
GRISLY FIND: Mrs Elaine Bell with the human skull found at Spa Wood

A COUPLE out walking their dogs made a grim discovery when they stumbled across a human skull at a Burnley beauty spot.

Police have now launched an investigation after the skull was found in a section of river in Spa Wood, which is close to Cemetery Wood and the former Hapton colliery.

Mr and Mrs Mick and Elaine Bell, of Valley Gardens, were taking their usual route, which they have followed for more than 20 years, when Mr Bell (65) noticed the skull in shallow water.

They initially thought it was made out of plastic but on closer inspection realised it was genuine and handed it in to police.

Mrs Bell (50) said: “We were just going our normal way with the dogs and we saw it. There’s a big pipe that comes out of the hillside and the water goes down into the river. My husband saw it first, it wasn’t deep water.”

The couple put the skull into a plastic bag and took it to show their next door neighbours before giving it to detectives at Burnley police station. It has now been sent for forensic tests.

Police searched the area but no other bones were recovered and detectives do not believe there are any suspicious circumstances surrounding the grisly find.

“I’m not very shockable but I think if I was on my own I might have been shocked. It’s not every day you find a human skull,” said Mrs Bell.

“My dad said we should’ve left it where it was. They don’t know whether it’s a man or a woman or how long it had been there. We wondered if it had been in the pipe and became dislodged with the heavy rain we’ve been having. The top of it was all discoloured. We think it could belong to a miner from the colliery.”

A police spokeswoman said: “An investigation was launched after the skull was found by a couple walking their dogs on Saturday, May 12th.

“The area was searched and no other bones were found. There are not believed to be any suspicious circumstances.”