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Archaeologists Study Mysterious Braided Hair That May Belong To Medieval Saint

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When Jamie Cameron was seven years old, he visited Romsey Abbey near Southampton city in the United Kingdom as part of a field trip. There he found a display of perfectly intact braided hair.

This braided hair was discovered buried beneath the abbey by gravediggers in 1839. This piece of relic piqued the interest of Cameron, who grew up to be an archaeologist to uncover the secrets the head of hair holds.

“The one thing, in particular, that I remember was the preserved head of hair in a display case. I’d never seen anything like it before, and ever since that day, I’ve wondered who this person might have been,” Cameron shared to LiveScience. He also added that it’s one of the reasons why he chose to take the path of archaeology.

This perfectly intact braided hair was found by gravediggers in 1839.

This perfectly intact braided hair was found by gravediggers in 1839.

Researchers have found pieces of scalp still attached to it.

Researchers have found pieces of scalp still attached to it.

Now working as University of Oxford’s archaeological research assistant Cameron and his colleagues are doing some tests on the preserved braided hair to find out the identity of the person who owned it. One of the candidates is a medieval saint.

The hair may have belonged to either an Irish nun, Saint Morwenna or Saint Ethelfleda, who re-established the burned down abbey.

Speculations point to one of the women mentioned above, but there were no inscriptions found on the casket where it was placed.

The mysterious braided hair even has pieces of human scalp attached to it. The researchers also did carbon dating for the hair and the oak on which the hair rests.

“We can be almost certain that this individual died between 895 and 1123 A.D., and it is also 68 percent likely that they died between the narrower date range of 965 and 1045 A.D,” Cameron said.

It is generally assumed that the hair belonged to a woman, but a male owner has not been ruled out.

It is generally assumed that the hair belonged to a woman, but a male owner has not been ruled out.

So far, the researchers didn’t have a link to the women who resided in Romsey Abbey. They will still need to do more research to make a connection.

Generally, it was assumed that the hair belonged to a woman due to the chosen hairstyle, but Cameron said that it still remains uncertain.

H/T: LiveScience

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