THE young victim of a murder 1,800 years ago near Hadrian’s Wall may have come from the Mediterranean, research carried out in the North- East has revealed.

The skeleton of the child, whose gender is unknown but who is thought to have been aged ten, was unearthed two years ago at the Vindolanda Roman Fort, Bardon Mill, Northumberland .

A Durham University expert believes the child hailed from southern Europe or North Africa and died a violent death.

It implies that the victim was a slave or the son or daughter of a serving soldier.

The pit at the barracks where the body was found dated from the mid-3rd Century, when the Fourth Cohort of Gauls was garrisoned at Vindolanda.

Dr Trudi Buck, a Durham University biological anthropologist, has named the child Georgie. She said: “I think this is definitely a murder or other unnatural death because of the way the body was deposited.

“This is very circumstantial, but possibly it was hit over the head with something because we have very good preservation of the body down to wrist bones that are 1cm in size, but not very much of the head.

“Maybe a harsh blow to the head caused a fractured skull.”

Dr Buck said the child may have been killed deliberately or accidentally and the body had been concealed as the burial did not conform to strict Roman rules.

Tests on the child’s tooth enamel showed the youngster grew up in the Mediterranean.

Dr Buck said: “Until the child was at least seven or eight, they have been in southern Europe or even North Africa.

“This asks lots of questions about who this child was, how did they get from North Africa to northern Britain in the last two years of their life, and then get killed?”