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Red Lady of Paviland
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Red Lady of Paviland

The Red Lady of Paviland was a fairly complete human skeleton dyed in red ochre that was discovered in 1826 by the Reverend William Buckland in one of the Paviland limestone caves of the Gower Peninsula in south Wales.

The "lady" has since been identified as a young man who lived 29,000 years ago (26,350 +/- 550 BP, OxA-1815) at the end of the Upper Paleolithic Period (old stone age), and are the oldest human remains found in the United Kingdom, as well as being the oldest ceremonial burial in Western Europe. The skeleton was found along with jewellery made from ivory and seashells, and a mammoth's skull.

Although now on the coast, at the time of the burial the cave would have been located approximately 70 miles inland, overlooking a plain. The ice sheet of the Devensian Glaciation would have been advancing towards the site, and the weather would have been more like that of present day Siberia, with maximum temperatures of perhaps 10C in summer, -20 in winter, and a tundra vegetation. Bone protein analysis indicates that the "lady" lived on a diet that consisted of between 15% and 20% fish, which, together with the distance from the sea, suggests that the people may have been semi nomadic. Other food probably included manmoth, the woolly rhinoceros and reindeer.

The skeleton is currently housed at the Oxford University Natural History Museum in England, however a campaign is now underway to return it to Wales; specifically to Swansea Museum.

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