GRISLY evidence from what may have been a 1,700-year-old murder was found by archaeologists in the Churchill Hospital grounds in 1971.

A disfigured human skull was discovered in a six-foot well shaft during an excavation of a Roman pottery site at the Headington hospital.

The skull had a jagged hole in its crown and evidence of cut marks on one of two neck vertebrae - leading to suggestions that the skull's owner was bludgeoned to death, decapitated and their head flung down a well.

But the lack of other body parts led to the theory that the head was instead thrown into the well as part of some bizarre ritual.

A surgeon at the Churchill 'tentatively' suggested the skull belonged to a woman but other details were sparse, while the pottery site dated from about the third century AD.

Chris Young, of the Oxford Institute of Archaeology, revealed some of the Celts who inhabited Britain at the time practised a 'cult of the human head'.