Unsolved Murders


Age: 70

Sex: male

Date: 4 Aug 1955

Place: Upperton, Bonsall, Derbyshire

A human skull and bones were found in an old lead mine in a lonely field at Upperton near Bonsall on 4 August 1955.

They were thought to have been between 180 and 230 years old.

An inquest was later held on them on 26 August 1955 in which an open verdict was returned.

The bones were unearthed by two fluor-spar miners who were brothers whilst they were digging their drift mine on their land.

The inquest heard that they were thought to have belonged to a man aged between 70 and 80 who had been between 5ft 9in and 5ft 10in tall. They were thought to have been about 200 years old give and take 30 years on either side.

One of the brothers sad that his other brother opened a drift in a slight mound that appeared to be an old lead mine and said that they came across some old workings on the afternoon or 4 August 1955 in which they found the skull and bones. He said that the hole was about four feet below the surface and had been filled in with loose rubble but that the ground above was virgin.

He said that the skull was found lying on its side and was approximately two feet from what seemed to be the filled-in vertical shaft of a lead mine. He said that there was a slight indentation in the ground in the form of an impression which might have been left by a body.

The brother said that the field that they were working in had been in the tenancy or ownership of his family since 1897 and that he had never heard any mention of a lead mine in the records of Wirksworth Great Barmote Court which was the ancient lead-mining authority for the area, which he said indicated that the workings must have been very old.

A doctor that examined the bones said that there were 37 in total, including those of the ribs and jaw.

He said that he also found some black-blue material lying beneath the remains that he had microscopically examined and said that the composition of it was consistent with having been wool or serge.

He added that there was nothing to indicate a cause of death.

It was noted that the Curator of Derby Museum had also visited the field and had determined that there was nothing there to indicate that it had been used as an ancient burial ground.

When the Coroner summed up he said that there was no evidence to indicate what had happened and said that the site had presumably been a lead mine but that whether the man had worked there or he had slipped and fallen in would never be known.

He added, 'These enquiries are interesting, and it is really remarkable what can be ascertained by examination of bones after all this length of time. It is impossible however to carry this matter any further.

An open verdict was returned and a certificate was issue to Matlock Urban Council for the disposal of the remains.

*map pointers are rough estimates based on known location details as per Place field above.

see www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk

see Aberdeen Evening Express - Friday 12 August 1955

see Belper News - Friday 26 August 1955