Suspected human skull fragment discovered at Belfast Orange Hall

It is understood the remains are historic and will be interred following a Christian ceremony.

25 February 2022

A fragment of a suspected human skull has been discovered at an Orange Hall in Belfast.

It is understood that part of a skull cap, which is believed to be historic, was found in an old store room at Clifton Street Orange Hall in the north of the city during a clear-out on Thursday.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed they were notified about the finding of an “apparent human skull” in the area on Thursday afternoon.

A PSNI spokesperson said: “The skull does appear to be human remains. This is not being treated as suspicious at this time.”

Clifton Street Orange Hall in north Belfast where part of a suspected human skull was discovered (Rebecca Black/PA)

Work is under way at the Orange Hall to organise old records to make them more accessible to those researching family history.

Both the Orange Order and the Royal Black Preceptory are known for having a number of secretive rituals, known as degrees, which members take part in.

It is understood that the bones may have been displayed in one of those rituals in the past.

Although, a member of the orders emphasised to the PA news agency that such practices no longer take place and have not for some time.

DUP councillor Brian Kingston told PA: “I spoke to the chairman of the Hall Management Committee and the curator of the museum at Belfast Orange Hall, Clifton Street.

“As part of the preparation of an historic library for the hall, items in an old store room were being looked through.

“Those doing this work came across a wooden box which they opened to find it contained a human skull and two other bones.

“These are very old items as this storeroom had not been used for well over 50 years.

“These bones would likely have been used many, many decades ago as artefacts for display purposes but such bone items are not used in modern times.”

Mr Kingston said that on behalf of the Hall Management Committee, he reported the find to the PSNI.

He said police officers visited on Thursday evening and were content that these are historic items.

“Once the police formally confirm that these bones are of no interest to them, preparations will be made to inter these bones in a Christian ceremony,” he said.

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