Red Lady of Paviland

Location: Gower Peninsula
Museum: Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History
Era: Stone Age
Status: Active Project
Tradition: Other

  • Reburial
  • Display Improvement
  • Repatriation


Update: This ancestor is currently on loan to the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. See review of the exhibition, Origins: In Search of Early Wales.  January 2008


“Of all the Upper Paleolithic remains, the most famous is the ‘Red Lady of Paviland’, a skeleton which William Buckland, who discovered it in 1823, considered to be that of a young woman of the Roman era. Earlier in this century, it was believed that the bones were those of a young man who lived about 16,000 BC, a time when the climate was exceptionally severe. However, the skeleton has now been dated to about 24,000 BC, when the temperature was rather higher. The care taken in interring the bones and the red ochre with which they were coloured suggest that they received a ritual burial, with the soul of the ‘Red Lady’ being entrusted to the gods (or more likely the goddesses) of his people.”

John Davies’ History of Wales (Penguin 1994) p.4:


11th October 2006

The tale of the Oxford “grave-robbers”

For over a century, the Red Lady of Paviland, a 26,000 year old skeleton found in a cave near Swansea, has been proudly on display in Oxford University’s Museum of Natural History. But now an unlikely alliance of protestors has won a victory in their campaign to get her back. Cyt ap Nydden, a druid whose real name is Chris Warwick, last week launched a campaign group with twelve other pagans and druids, dedicated to the return of the skeleton...more


Ancient bones known as The Red Lady of Paviland, discovered in Gower 184 years ago, are to be returned to Wales.Directors of the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, where the remains are held, yesterday agreed to their repatriation. ..more

23 September 2006

Druid campaign for sacred sites

A retired engineer from Swansea is campaigning for ancient burial sites to be considered sacred ground. Chris Warwick, who is now a druid, said places like Paviland cave on Gower should be treated the same way as modern graveyards...more


Dead To Rights

This is a yahoo group site started by Cyt ap Nydden to provide a news and discussion forum for the Dead to Rights Campaign to return the Red Lady of Paviland to South Wales. You’ll have to join the group to access the forums and articles.

Lyric Theatre, Carmarthenshire

HAD is pleased to draw your attention to an interesting new performance event centred on the Red Lady of Paviland due to take place in April in Carmarthen.  The following introductory extract is taken from the project’s web site.

“Drawn from a cave on the Gower Peninsula, the 20 000 year old ochre-stained bones of the Red Lady of Paviland provide the inspiration for this unique and imaginative bi-lingual presentation of Welsh music, history, mythology and scientific fact.

The exciting new arts project for 2010, The Red Lady of Paviland is the result of the combined skills of platinum album selling composer Andrew Powell, leading Welsh poet / librettist Menna Elfyn, musical director Craig Roberts and eminent scientist Professor Mark Brake.

Centred around the fascinating story of the Red Lady of Paviland, the performance features award winning tenor soloist Robyn Lyn, Royal Harpist Claire Jones, 2009 Welsh League Champions Burry Port Town Band, mixed choir & children’s chorus.

The centrepiece of the performance will be a newly commissioned work ‘Y Dyn Unig’, a new and evocative cantata by Andrew Powell and Menna Elfyn. The work is commissioned by Craig and the Burry Port Town Band, and supported by a Steps to New Music award from the Arts Council of Wales.”

Contact: HAD Office