Forensics at Dundee’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) have digitally reconstructed the face of a man who was brutally murdered in the Scottish Highlands around 1,400 years ago.
The remains were found buried in a cave around the Black Isle in eastern Scotland. As they found evidence that the cave was used for iron-smithing, they unearthed a skeleton which was placed on its back in a cross-legged position with his limbs weighed down with heavy beach rocks. The skeleton was then taken to the lab for further research.
After extensive research on the body, it was later revealed that the radiocarbon dating of the bones showed that he died sometime between 430 – 630 CE. This would suggest he was part of the Picts (They were given this name by the Romans which comes from the term “painted or tattooed ones”), a collective of tribes in Scotland who repelled the conquests of Romans and Angles up until the 10th century CE. Analysis showed that there were massive fractures to his face and skull, which indicated at least five heavy blunt force impacts.
Here’s what Project leader and forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black had to say about the discovery;
“The first impact was by a circular cross-section implement that broke his teeth on the right side, The second may have been the same implement, used like a fighting stick, which broke his jaw on the left. The third resulted in fracturing to the back of his head as he fell from the blow to his jaw with a tremendous force possibly onto a hard object perhaps stone.”
“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,” she continued. “The fifth was not in keeping with the injuries caused in the other four where a hole, larger than that caused by the previous weapon, was made in the top of the skull.”
The CAHID team created a digital reconstruction of the face. This was created by using anatomical science, anthropology, forensic art and imaging technology.
It seems the forensic team is not going to stop here. They are planning the further evacuation of the cave and more detailed analysis of the bones. In a statement, evacuation leader Steven Birch reflected on the situation “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?”