Beachy Head Lady

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The Beachy Head Lady is an ancient skeleton discovered in Beachy Head, East Sussex, England. The Beachy Head Lady lived during the Roman period, around 200 to 250 AD, and is thought to have originated from Sub-Saharan Africa.[1][2] So far, no DNA analysis has been done to substantiate the claim based on facial reconstruction.[3]

As part of the Eastbourne Ancestors project, 300 sets of human remains excavated from Anglo-Saxon cemeteries were re-examined. Heritage Officer Jo Seaman and his team found two boxes labelled "Beachy Head, something to do with 1956 or 1959". Inside they found a very well-preserved human skeleton. Initial inspection by an osteoarchaeologist reported that the remains belonged to a young female who was about five feet tall.[1]

Caroline Wilkinson was asked to perform a forensic facial reconstruction, and upon seeing the skull, immediately recognised her features as those of a sub-Saharan African. Radiocarbon dating established that the Beachy Head Lady lived around 200 to 250 AD. Although there are other examples of Africans at this date in Britain, such as the Ivory Bangle Lady found in York, it is nonetheless a highly unusual discovery as Sub-Saharan Africa was not part of the Roman Empire.

Isotope analysis indicated that the Beachy Head Lady grew up in southeast England.[1] Jo Seaman said the results were intriguing: "Whether that means that she's first generation we don't know. She could possibly have been born in Africa and brought over here at a very young age, but it's just as likely that she was born here."[1]

The Beachy Head Lady was exhibited to the public for the first time at the Eastbourne Museum.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d "Beachy Head Lady was young sub-Saharan Roman with good teeth, say archaeologists". Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  2. ^ "Centuries old Beachy Head Lady's face revealed". BBC News. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
  3. ^ Seaman, Jo. "The mystery of Beachy Head Lady: A Roman African from Eastbourne". Museum Crush. Retrieved 11 February 2019.
  4. ^ Zoe Mintz. "Face Of 'Beachy Head Lady' Revealed, Roman Era Woman Is A 'Fantastic Discovery' [PHOTO]". International Business Times. Retrieved 17 February 2016.