Investigations of a skeleton found buried under the floor of the chapel of Stirling Castle in 1997 have dated the remains to the Midde Ages, and forensic examination has determined that the remains were those of a well-muscled male individual, who had done considerable riding, who had been wounded in battle, and who died a violent death.
Archaeologists believe that bones found in an ancient chapel… are those of an English knight named Robert Morley who died in a tournament there in 1388.
Radio carbon dating has confirmed that the skeleton is from that period, and detailed analysis suggests that he was in his mid-20s, was heavily muscled and had suffered several serious wounds in earlier contests.
He appears to have survived for some time with a large arrowhead lodged in his chest, while the re-growth of bone around a dent in the front of his skull indicates that he had also recovered from a severe blow from an axe.
He eventually died when he was struck by a sword that sliced through his nose and jaw. His reconstructed skull also indicates that he was lying on the ground when the fatal blow was delivered.
(D)espite the warrior’s relatively young age of about 25, he may have suffered several serious wounds from earlier fights.
Researchers thinks it is also possible he may have been living for some time with a large arrowhead in his chest. …
Some research was carried out on the skeleton at the time of its discovery, but a lack of technology meant it was difficult to assess the remains in more detail.
Since then scientists have been able to perform laser scanning which revealed the wounds.
Bone regrowth around a dent in the front of the skull suggested the man had recovered from a severe blow, possibly from an axe.
The warrior had also lost a number of teeth – perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse.
The fatal wound, however, occurred when something, possibly a sword, sliced through his nose and jaw.
Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland’s head of cultural resources, said: “It appears he died in his mid-twenties after a short and violent life.
“His legs were formed in a way that was consistent with spending a lot of time on horseback, and the upper body points to someone who was well-muscled, perhaps due to extensive training with medieval weapons.
“This evidence, and the fact he was buried at the heart of a royal castle, suggests he was a person of prestige, possibly a knight.”
The skeleton was excavated from beneath a floor in 1997 when archaeologists were working in an area of the castle which turned out to be the site of a lost medieval royal chapel.
Some research was carried out at the time, but only limited information was gleaned. Advances in technology and analytical techniques prompted a re-examination of the skeleton, which produced the new results.
They showed injuries suffered prior to the man’s death, including a large arrowhead in the skeleton which appears to have struck through the back or under the arm.
Gordon Ewart, of Kirkdale Archaeology, who carried out the excavation and some of the research for Historic Scotland, said: “There were a series of wounds, including a dent in the skull from a sword or axe, where bone had re-grown, showing that he had recovered.
“At first, we had thought the arrow wound had been fatal, but it now seems he had survived it and may have had his chest bound up.
In addition to the three serious wounds, the knight lost a number of teeth â€” perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse while jousting. A large arrowhead found in the skeleton appeared to have entered through his back or under his arm. Crystalised matter attached to the arrowhead may have been from flies or other insect larvae and could have been from clothing the arrow forced into the wound.
Makes you glad you work in an office, doesn’t it?