A medieval skeleton that was mingled with a tree’s roots in a discovery made earlier this year in Ireland has been identified as the remains of a Gaelic man who met his death violently more than 900 years ago.
The bones were discovered when a 215-foot beech tree in Sligo County fell to the ground during a severe storm, according to Irish Archaeology
. Although the archeologists working for Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services — on behalf of the Irish National Monuments Service — initially discerned nothing to be amiss, they soon discovered the upper part of a skeleton embedded within the tree’s upturned root system while the lower half of the skeleton lay still fixed in the ground.
The skeleton belonged to a young man between the ages of 17 and 20, and radiocarbon analysis estimates the remains to be around 900 or 1,000 years old, according to Fox News
, meaning the man lived roughly between the years 1030-1200 A.D.
“He had been killed violently,” said Marion Dowd, the director of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services, according to Fox News. “We have stab wounds in the upper chest and they were inflicted by a knife — we also have a stab wound in the left hand, which suggests that he was trying to defend himself.”
Although the exact nature and cause of the violent dispute remains unknown, Dowd estimates that the young man’s death was not a result of the 1169 A.D. Anglo-Norman invasion, and that the cause of death most likely resulted from a local conflict, battle, or personal dispute, according to CNN
. The skeleton is still undergoing further testing and analysis.
Dowd further noted that the young man appeared to have received a formal Christian burial because his head was turned to the west.
Although local records suggest that a church and graveyard existed in the area where the skeleton was discovered, no further findings have been documented, according to CNN. Dowd noted that whoever planted the tree 215 years ago seems to have been unaware of the graveyard’s existence.
“It’s completely coincidental — the context is unusual,” she said. “There are historical records that say there was a church and graveyard in the area, but there are no remains visible today.”
The analysis of the beech tree-bound body also revealed that the young man was of unusual stature for the medieval time period at 5-foot-10-inches tall, according to Fox News.
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