updated 9/30/2008 1:01:38 PM ET 2008-09-30T17:01:38

Two ancient Egyptian skulls unearthed in a yard in England have been returned to their native country. And the mystery of how they got from the hot sands of Egypt to the rainy north of England has been solved, investigators said Tuesday.

The first skull was discovered by homeowner Matthew McClelland as he did some gardening at his home in the northern city of Manchester a year ago. He called authorities, and they discovered a second skull.

An analysis by an Oxford University expert confirmed the skulls were a little more than 2,000 years old.

Investigators learned they had been buried in the yard by Carl Bracey, a doctor who sold the house to McClelland two years before the skulls were discovered.

Bracey said he bought the skulls as a teenager on a family trip to Egypt. But he buried them years later when his wife said she didn't want them around any longer.

The skulls were repatriated to Egypt a few weeks ago. Manchester police said Tuesday that no criminal charges are expected.

Experts believe tomb raiders initially unearthed the artifacts.

An Egyptian embassy official, who declined to be quoted by name because he is not authorized to do so, said Tuesday the skulls are going to undergo restoration work and may go on public display sometime in the future.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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