A SUSPECTED human skull found in a Hapton river was an ‘elaborate fake’, police have confirmed.

Forensic experts thought the skull could have been a human male when it was discovered back in May.

But following further tests, police have announced the skull is fake after scientists were unable to find out how old it was through the carbon dating process.

The skull even had a fracture which had healed, incision marks indicating a pre-death operation and also signs of a significant infection around the nose and mouth.

Det Supt Charlie Haynes said: “In the early 1800s skulls from Papau New Guinea were collectable - which ties in with the features of this skull. It may be a very accurate replica of a collectable. It certainly wasn’t commercially produced looking at the attention to detail.

“It’s made of a substance that hasn’t been seen before by the scientists. We have no idea how long it had been in the river and we are unable to date it.

“It is interesting but we aren’t investigating it any further.”

The replica skull was initially handed to police by Elaine and Mick Bell, of Valley Gardens, Hapton, who had been out walking their dogs near to a section of the river which lies between the cemetery and Hapton Colliery.

It was initially believed that the skull may have belonged to a miner from Hapton Valley Colliery, washed into the river from a disused mine after several of days of heavy rainfall.

After the find, detectives passed the item to forensic experts who initially thought the item was a human skull. Only after further chemical tests however, the skull was revealed to be false and not made of bone.

Det Supt Charlie Haynes said: “When carbon dating failed to produce any results the item was subjected to chemical testing, revealing only then that the skull was neither bone nor fossil and in fact an elaborate fake, having been cast from a real skull.

“How it came to be in the Spa Wood river will remain a mystery.”