A HUMAN skull has been discovered in some woods.
The grim find was made by a shocked member of the public while walking in a wooded area at Wynyard, on the outskirts of Hartlepool.
Five pieces of vertebrae were also later found near to where the skull was discovered.
Cleveland Police has today revealed that an investigation has been launched into the discovery and it is working alongside forensic teams and an anthropologist - an expert in the development of humans – to try to establish who the remains belong to and how they got there.
Initial findings by the expert suggest the skull is that of a man who died around four of five years ago, and was in his 40s.
There are no signs of attack to the skull, and the teeth are all in place. It has now been sent off for DNA tests to try and establish his identity.
Cadaver dogs, which are trained to look for dead bodies, were brought to sniff out the area while police carried out fingertip searches of the site, but nothing else has been recovered.
A spokeswoman for Cleveland Police said detectives are currently treating the find as “unexplained”.
She said: “Police were called to a report of a human skull being found by a member of the public in a wooded area near to Wynyard.
“A cordon was put in place and officers began an investigation alongside an anthropologist.
“During a site visit by officers and forensic teams the following day, five pieces of vertebrae were also found.
“Initial investigations have determined that the bones are believed to be that of a man, possibly in his 40s, and that he died around four or five years ago.
“There are no signs of head trauma and the teeth are all intact and in good condition.
“Cadaver dogs visited the site on Wednesday, December 18, as part of an extensive and detailed search. Police have also carried out fingertip searches of the area, however nothing further has been recovered.”
Officers say they will also be speaking to local forces about any outstanding missing people who match the descriptions given by the anthropologist.
Anyone with information about the skull – which was found on Wednesday, December 11 – is asked to contact Cleveland Police on the non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.