Storms in County Sligo, in 2014, ripped a tree from the ground a revealed the remains of a 900-year-old medieval skeleton that archaeologists believe was a murder victim.
Storms during the winter of 2014 dramatically ripped a tree from the ground revealing the upper skeleton of a man trapped in the tree’s roots. His legs remained buried.
The 900-year-old, medieval skeleton revealed itself under a birch tree in Collooney, County Sligo. The remains are believed to be that off a young male who suffered a violent death. His skeleton shows evidence of cut marks on his ribs and hand, suggesting that he was fleeing an attacker.
As was his death, the manner in which his remains were revealed was violent. The birch tree he was buried beneath was ripped from the earth in 2014. His upper skeleton, including his spine and skull, remained trapped among the roots and were raised into the air. His legs remained in his grave.
The National Monuments Service commissioned Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services (SLAS) to retrieve the badly disturbed remains. They posted amazing images of the disturbed burial (see above and below) on their Facebook page.
Dr. Marion Dowd of the SLAS told the Irish Times, “As excavations go, this was certainly an unusual situation.
“The upper part of the skeleton was raised into the air trapped within the root system. The lower leg bones, however, remained intact in the ground. Effectively as the tree collapsed, it snapped the skeleton in two.”
Osteoarchaeologist, an expert in bones, Dr. Linda Lynch’s examination showed that the remains were those of a 17 to 20-year-old man. He was over 5-foot 10-inches, taller than the average person of that era. Lynch deduced that mild spinal joint disease was called by physical labor from a young age. Radiocarbon dating places his death in the 11th or 12th century, between 1030 and 1200.
The young man was given a Christian burial. Although there are historical records indicating the presence of a church and graveyard in the area, there are no traces of it today. There were no other skeletons found during the excavations.
* Originally published in 2014.