Kelly historian rules out skull as Ned’s

BEECHWORTH’S noted Ned Kelly historian Ian Jones says the skull handed to Victorian authorities for DNA authentication this week is not likely the famous bushranger’s.

Mr Jones said the skull was likely Ernest Knox’s, who was executed at Old Melbourne Gaol 14 years after Kelly.

“His initials are EK (the same as Edward Kelly) and it appears the grave that was dug up in 1929 as Ned Kelly’s grave was Ernest Knox’s,” Mr Jones said.

Mr Jones first saw the skull in 1972.

He said the facial features seemed too long and that a cast of the skull taken for reconstruction was very similar to the face of Knox.

And Mr Jones said Kelly’s true skull would have to be in two pieces.

That was unlike the one West Australian man Tom Baxter has presented to authorities.

“Ned’s skull has to be in two pieces because they, doctors and students, removed his head, and took his body apart and his organs out after the execution,” Mr Jones said.

“It was reported at the time that they were going to be able to tell us all about the intelligence of this famous bushranger.

“The only reason a group like that would remove the head is to examine the brain and unless you saw the skull in half the only way you can get the brain out is a teaspoon, which is not going to be much good for research.”

Mr Jones said he still held out hope Kelly’s skull would one day be found.

“Nothing would surprise me,” he said.

“I didn’t think we’d ever find the green silk sash he was given for saving young Dick Shelton from drowning at Avenel.

“That turned up absolutely out of the blue.

“The Jerilderie Letter, it looked like that had totally vanished, that turned up, thank heavens.

“His favourite rifle, that turned up.”

Mr Jones said the discovery of the skull would mark the first physical connection to the bushranger’s body.

“We’ve got no physical contact with his body, no remains that can be treated in any appropriate way,” he said.

“I heard a story his brain was preserved in a jar at the Institute of Anatomy.

“There’s a legend his skull was used as a paperweight on the desk of some minor government official.

“I have no theory, it could be anywhere.”

Result for the tests on the skull are expected in 12 months.