Face of a Pictish Male Who was Violently Murdered 1,400-Years-Ago is Reconstructed in Incredible Detail

Face of a Pictish Male Who was Violently Murdered 1,400-Years-Ago is Reconstructed in Incredible Detail

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A team of Archaeologists excavating a cave in the Highlands of Scotland, were amazed to discover a superbly preserved skeleton of a Pictish man at the entrance. With the help of technology, scientists managed to successfully reconstruct the face of the man, who was violently murdered in around 600 AD.

Skeleton was in Remarkable State of Preservation

A group of archaeologists excavating a cave in the Black Isle, Ross-shire in Scotland, couldn’t believe their eyes when they discovered the ancient skeleton buried in a recess of the cave. A bone sample sent for radiocarbon dating showed that the man died between 430 and 630 AD during the Pictish period. His body had been positioned in an uncommon cross-legged position, with large stones holding down his legs and arms. Archaeologists from the Rosemarkie Caves Project found the skeleton while researching whether the cave might have been occupied.

The skeleton was discovered during a cave excavation in the Black Isle.

The skeleton was discovered during a cave excavation in the Black Isle. Credit: Rosemarkie Caves Project

Excavation leader Steven Birch told BBC News: "Here we have a man who has been brutally killed, but who has been laid to rest in the cave with some consideration - placed on his back, within a dark alcove, and weighed down by beach stones. While we don't know why the man was killed, the placement of his remains gives us insight into the culture of those who buried him. Perhaps his murder was the result of interpersonal conflict, or was there a sacrificial element relating to his death?"

Victim Suffered a Brutal End

The bones were sent to one of the most decorated forensic anthropologists in the world, Professor Dame Sue Black of Dundee University’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID), where Dr. Black verified that the "fascinating" skeleton was in a remarkable state of preservation. Dr. Black and her team – including Dr. Christopher Rynn and PhD students Micol Zuppello, Viviane Lira and Samantha Goodchild – were able to describe in detail the horrific injuries the man had suffered and concluded that he sustained at least five blows that resulted in fractures to his face and skull, allowing them to understand how the man's short life was brought to a violent and brutal end. Dr. Black told BBC News, "From studying his remains, we learned a little about his short life but much more about his violent death. As you can see from the facial reconstruction, he was a striking young man, but he met a very brutal end, suffering a minimum of five severe injuries to his head."

Dr. Black went on giving more hair-raising details about the death of the unlucky man, “The first three impacts broke the man's teeth, and fractured his left jaw and the back of his head. The fourth impact was intended to end his life as probably the same weapon was driven through his skull from one side and out the other as he lay on the ground. The fifth blow was to the top of the man's skull,” she said.            

The skeleton of the Pictish man was found in the recess of a cave.

The skeleton of the Pictish man was found in the recess of a cave. Credit: Rosemarkie Caves Project

Reconstruction of the Victim’s Face Shows a Pictish Male

The Picts were a tribal confederation of peoples who resisted some of Rome's toughest legions before disappearing from history. The group of tribes lived in what is today eastern and northern Scotland during the Late Iron Age and early Medieval periods from around 270-900 AD.

After the scientists of Dundee University carefully analyzed the well-preserve bones of the man, they were able to reconstruct his face with the help of modern technology. More specifically, a computer program manipulated the scanned images of the skeleton in order to produce a model of what the muscles around may have looked like.

From there, layers were added to provide the idea of the face shape and features. Researchers described the young man as “strikingly handsome” as Daily Mail reports.  The researchers also concluded that that the young man had had long, wavy hair with a thick beard and mild blotches around his face.  Further analysis on the skeleton is programmed for the following days, in order for the scientists to learn as many details as possible about the ancient man, such as his place of origin.

Top image: The facial reconstruction of the Pictish man. Credit: University of Dundee

By Theodoros Karasavvas

Comments

Love this website.

It was a wide spread practice lasting from pagan through christian times to weight down the bodies of witches and those condemned of horrific crimes so that their ghosts couldn't walk and attack the living. Materials used to wedge them down were yule branches, iron bars and my guess is stones as well. Perhaps he was a criminal, perhaps he was murdered and his killers wanted to protect themselves from his ghost's vengeance. Whatever the case may his soul rest in peace.

I would wonder that the stones were placed to hide the body, especially if he had been murdered..

None

Sad, violent ending for this fellow...wonder what he did? They certainly wanted him to suffer before he died...poor soul.

Going by the description of the wounds, it'd be unlikely he suffered very much, or for long. The first blow would've knocked his senses out, the rest he prob'ly never felt; his consciousness having left upon the first blow. The human body can only take so much, then becomes insensitive after repeated abuse. Read Nigel Trantor's book' The Wallace' , and see what abuse was in his days. The way he was hauled to the execution site , knocked nearly all the sense out of him, & the trials of being drawn & quartered, & his heart ripped from his body, had no visible effect on him ; he was 'out of it'. Doubt the Romans met with him, they were back in Italy way before the year mentioned. More likely his death was the result of the rituals of Pictish tribal spring raiding; cattle stealing & wife 'hunting'. I read a book that described the raids as 'nearly a sport'! Really-

Given the extent of his facial and head injuries it's a wonder they could piece his visage back together. Certainly a vicious death.

Perhaps he was sent by his tribe to negotiate with the Romans and they sent back their answer in the form of his body.
His own people would have then proceeded with their burial customs.

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