Ancient human bones that vanished from a newly discovered archaeological site at the weekend were returned to the authorities yesterday.
The bones of a child, which are at least 1,000 years old, were handed in to Donegal County Museum in Letterkenny yesterday afternoon following a national media appeal.
Other artifacts, which had been found at the same site over the past 10 years, a quarry in Lunniagh, Gweedore, were also handed over to assistant curator Caroline Carr.
An amateur archaeologist delivered the bones and other items to TG4 reporter Aine Ni Bhreisleain in Gweedore, who took them to the museum.
She said that the man, who wished to remain anonymous, had become concerned about the safety of the bones over the bank holiday weekend when there were visitors in the area.
“He was worried they would be damaged and he removed them for safe-keeping,” she said.
But Caroline Carr said that the actions of the anonymous person, however well-meaning, had destroyed an archaeological site.
“Of course we are delighted to get the bones back and the other items but what he thought was being helpful has actually destroyed the site,” she said.
“We would urge anyone who has any concerns about the safety of such sites, not to touch anything but to contact the gardai.”
Efforts will now get underway to establish the age of the human remains and determine the cause of death.
Previous skeletal remains, which originated at the same quarry last week and are believed to be female, could be up to 4,000 years old.
The quarry finds, along with a cluster of archaeological sites in the area, could indicate the presence of further human remains.
Four years ago, archaeologists unearthed 1,200 human remains during the construction of the Ballyshannon/Bundoran bypass.