FOUR teenage friends have been nicknamed The Goonies after digging up a prehistoric human skeleton while playing on sand dunes.
The pals unearthed two leg bones, part of a pelvis, a ribcage, a spine and a jawbone in the dunes between Hartlepool Golf Club and Crimdon Dene.
It prompted pals to dub them The Goonies, after the 1980s film favourite featuring friends who embark on an adventure after finding a pirate treasure map.
The Mail reported yesterday that police were investigating the discovery of the bones, which archaeologists have now revealed to be a prehistoric burial, probably several thousands of years old.
The site has since been inspected by Tees Archaeology, who have found the burial is of a person lying on their side.
Teenagers Michael Harris, Sophie Miller, Nicola Croft and Aaron Parsley were shocked to discover the human remains.
They told how they initially thought they had found a dog bone and then assumed the skeleton’s kneecap was a skimming stone before further digging led them to the reality of what they had found.
Some of the pals, who attend The Academy at Shotton Hall, in Peterlee, had been jumping from the dunes around 3pm on Saturday when one of them began to dig and saw what they thought was a dog bone.
Aaron, 14, who lives in Peterlee with parents Lisa and Andrew, said: “We just thought it was a dog bone and thought nothing of it.
“When we found the ribcage we all just started screaming.
“Michael phoned the police and Nicola ran and got someone.”
Aaron said the bones hadn’t been too far from the sand’s surface.
Michael, 15, who lives with dad Andrew Harris and stepmum Angie Ridgeway in Shotton Colliery, added: “Our mate pulled two leg bones up and we were quite scared.”
He said Sophie then came across a ribcage and then half a pelvis and a kneecap and the friends heard her screaming.
But “fascinated” Michael said he did not feel like running away. Sophie, 16, who lives in Peterlee with parents Paula and Jimmy Miller, added: “We found ribs, a spine and a bottom jaw. “It was scary because I touched the ribs.”
She has since told her family and friends about her experience and she said people have been calling the friends The Goonies.
Fifteen-year-old Nicola, also from Peterlee, said: “My friend pulled up a kneecap but we didn’t know it was a kneecap and thought it was a skimming rock.
“He threw it at Aaron and Aaron chucked it in the water. “Seconds later, he pulled all these bones out.
“We were quite creeped out.”
Archaeologist Rachel Grahame said the crouched position of the body and lack of grave suggests this was a prehistoric burial and that the cliff location suggests it took place potentially several thousands of years ago.
Detective Sergeant Jim Allen of Hartlepool CID said police have stood down the investigation but issued safety concerns for people to stay away from the area as it is an unstable environment following recent landslips.