Man has historic bump on head

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The Independent Online
A FILM EDITOR is trying to find out whether a pronounced bump that gives his head the shape of a German soldier's coalscuttle helmet links him to a woman buried in a tomb in the Orkneys 5,000 years ago.

The woman's skull was revealed among other bones after a tractor wheel broke through the roof of a neolithic burial chamber. The discovery has set Martin Pepler digging into his family history and the unusual condition known as "step head". The Orkney tomb is featured tonight on the BBC2 programme Meet the Ancestors.

The Museum of London has a skull with a similar bump from the 17th century, when as much as 10 per cent of the capital's population had stepped heads, but the programme makers could find no-one with the condition living today. Then 53-year-old Mr Pepler, who is based in London, visited the museum.

"I have an extra ridge of bone on the back of my head which gives it a shape a little like a German helmet. When I was a child, I never wanted to get my hair cut short because I was afraid I'd get teased. But when I visited the museum, I thought, `My God, that's like my skull'," he said.