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Scientists Have Reconstructed The Face Of A Scottish Soldier From The 17th Century


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer

His muscles and facial features were recreated. Face Lab LJMU

A Scottish soldier who died in the 17th century has had his face reconstructed in groundbreaking research from the UK.

Scientists from Face Lab at Liverpool John Moores University and Durham University studied remains that were found back in 2013, in a mass grave of 30 people.


The bodies were rather unceremoniously tipped into the ground. It’s thought they were soldiers in the 1650 Battle of Dunbar, when a Scottish army was defeated by the English.

This was a brutal battle where thousands of soldiers marched 160 kilometers (100 miles) from the South East of Scotland to Durham in North East England. About 3,000 were imprisoned in Durham Cathedral and Castle.

The researchers were able to put together the skulls of one of these soldiers, stitching together the pieces to reconstruct it. Then they digitally scanned it, allowing them to manipulate the image using software.

Estimating the man’s age to be between 18 and 25, they were then able to build up his facial features and show what he looked like. They were even able to detect a previously unidentified facial scar.

A scanner was used to digitally recreate the face. Durham University/Face Lab

“This combines a 3D craniofacial depiction system with digital modeling software and facial and anatomical datasets, which can provide the most accurate and lifelike images of an array of fascinating archaeological and forensic art depictions,” Professor Caroline Wilkinson from Face Lab said in a statement.

“In this case, our collaboration with Durham University enabled us to draw on scans and data to create the most accurate and lifelike image possible to enable a true glimpse into the past of this Scottish soldier and how his life had been lived.”

This particular soldier is known only as Skeleton 22, and is depicted in clothes typical of Scottish soldiers at the time – a blue bonnet, brown jacket, and a shirt. His remains will be reburied close to where they were found, at Elvet Hill Road Cemetery in Durham City, once the research is complete.

The soldier's face has been recreated in remarkable detail. Face Lab LJMU




Researchers were able to get a glimpse into his past by analyzing the skeleton discovering that he likely suffered periods of poor nutrition during childhood. They were even able to work out where he lived, somewhere in South West Scotland during the 1630s.

“This information combined with the digital facial reconstruction gives us a remarkable, and privileged, glimpse into this individual’s past,” Durham University Department of Archaeology Professor Chris Gerrard said in the statement

Face Lab has previously been responsible for reconstructions of other notable figures, including King Richard III – whose remains were found in a car park in Leicester in 2013.


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