The first mummies to be discovered in Britain
were found in the Outer Hebrides, with the find being announced
in March 2003.
Researchers at the time believed that islanders
on South Uist started mummifying their dead at the same time as
the ancient Egyptians. Archaeologists from the University of
Sheffield were working at Cladh Hallan on South Uist.
The ancient remains found beneath the floor of
a Bronze Age roundhouse are believed to have been those of a girl
aged three, a teenage girl, and a middle-aged man and woman.
Analysis showed that the bodies, which were dated
to 1000 BC, had been preserved using naturally-occurring acids and
peat bogs. This is believed to be the first evidence of
mummification ever discovered in the UK.
Proof that they were mummified comes from the fact
that the bodies were gutted and carbon dating has shown them to
have died up to six hundred years before burial.
Mike Parker-Pearson, an expert in ancient burial
practices, said the find challenged the belief that mummification
had been practised only in Egypt and South America during this
time. He said: 'We are talking about artificial preservation of
the soft tissue after death. It is something that is deliberate.
'The flesh after a certain space of time will
rot away from even a preserved body.
'We didn't dig them up, then say "Ah,
mummies!", but we thought there was something strange. They
were very tightly crunched up and had to have been bound for some