Sometimes the forces of nature can unveil some hidden mystery that is still lying out there. Storms can unearth some very rare and bizarre finds with one heavy and powerful sweep.
In one such instance, the skeletal remains of a medieval teen were found entangled in the roots of a centuries-old beech tree that had been toppled during a violent storm. An archaeologist said the corpse, laid to rest nearly 1,000 years ago in what is now County Sligo, Ireland, offers insight into difficulties of life during that age.
This tree in Ireland blew over and revealed a nearly 1,000-year-old skeleton tangled in its roots: http://cnn.it/1Lw7EH9
The young man’s skeleton was literally ripped in half when a ferocious storm uprooted and blew over the 215-year-old tree in Collooney, County Sligo, Ireland, sometime before May 2015. The bones entangled in the tree’s massive roots were exposed and hoisted into the air, plain to see. National Monuments Service of Ireland then asked Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services to excavate and retrieve the remains.
“The upper part of the skeleton was raised into the air trapped within the root system,” Dr. Marion Dowd of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services told The Irish Times.
“The lower leg bones, however, remained intact in the ground. Effectively as the tree collapsed, it snapped the skeleton in two,” she further added.
The teenager had two stab wounds to the chest and one to his left hand, presumably from trying to ward off his attacker
Radiocarbon dating suggests the man was between 17 and 20 years old when he died—sometime during the early medieval period, between the 11th or 12th centuries. From the cut marks visibly seen on his ribs and left hand, he might have been fending off an attacker. He had been stabbed in the torso by a sharp blade, likely a sword or knife, possibly during a skirmish or some dispute, reported Irish Archaeology.
Dr. Dowd mentioned according to The Daily Mail: “We don’t know whether he died in a battle or whether this was a case of a personal dispute that ended in death.”
“This is the early medieval period and we know that there were various conflicts and violence in this period,” Dr. Dowd told BBC News.
The teenager is said to have been over 5 feet, 10 inches (1.8 meters) tall—significantly taller than the average medieval male. Evidence of mild spinal joint disease apparent on the skeleton implies he likely worked as a laborer from a young age. “We can assume he came from a farming background and one of the local settlements in the area,” explained Dr. Dowd.
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 16, 2015
The man, almost certainly part of some local Gaelic family, had been given a formal Christian burial, as he was laid in an east-west position, with hands folded over the pelvic region.
It is not clear whether he was interred in a graveyard or given an isolated burial, as “no other burials are known from the area but historical records do indicate a possible graveyard and church in the vicinity.”
— Daily Mail U.K. (@DailyMailUK) September 14, 2015
“After he died we know his family or community would have recovered the body and given him a form of Christian burial and then 800 years later somebody planted a beech tree completely coincidentally on that spot,” Dr. Dowd explained.
Dr. Dowd also shared that the remains were now in the National Museum of Ireland and her work on the project was completed.
“We didn’t find any signs of that so our job is finished as such, but this might lead to a bigger research project down the line,” she further mentioned.
Learn more about this fascinating medieval discovery in the video below: