900-year-old Medieval murder mystery dug up at the Scottish Seabird Centre

By Ben Miller | 24 February 2014

Wounds and an unusual weapon are allowing archaeologists to piece together a Medieval murder

A photo of an archaeological site with stones and mud
An excavation has revealed skeletal remains at the Scottish Seabird Centre© Addyman Archaeology
A murdered medieval 20-year-old, found with eight fatal stab wounds during an extensive archaeological investigation at the Scottish Seabird Centre in North Berwick, was an archer attacked with a dagger-like, seven-centimetre weapon carried by a military man.

A photo of a stone archaeological site
The independent Centre is also a conservation charity© Addyman Archaeology
Experts say “professionalism” and a “degree of calculation” were shown by the accuracy of the blows, carried out with a lozenge-sectioned blade usually seen in specialist military weapons.

The young man was stabbed four times in the back, twice in the left shoulder and twice in the ribs. His legs and right side were cut away in a later burial, but archaeologists say his frame, which was “slightly better built than average”, has wear to the shoulders indicating archery practice.

Bones of butchered seals, fish and seabirds have also been radiocarbon dated alongside more graves, stone tools, lead objects, ceramic material and structural remains dating from between the 5th and 9th centuries.

Addyman Archaeology carried out the excavation during the expansion of the Centre, whose Chief Executive, Tom Brock, called the discoveries “very exciting”. Displays have been set up to tell visitors to the venue about the latest findings.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

A photo of various parts of an ancient skeleton
An adjusted view of the skeleton© Addyman Archaeology
A photo of various parts of a spine which has been stabbed
An illustration of the torso wounds© Addyman Archaeology / Marion O'Neil
A photo of part of a human spine
A scapula wound© Addyman Archaeology
A photo of various parts of a skeleton buried in mud
The remains of the murder victim© Addyman Archaeology
A photo of a man in a red helmet looking at a skeleton
The excavation has told archaeologists much about the history of North Berwick and southern Scotland© Addyman Archaeology
A photo of archaeological sticks and stones within a dark brown or grey pit
The Centre opened in 2000© Addyman Archaeology
A photo of an ancient brown section of hipbone
A wound to the victim's rib© Addyman Archaeology
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To clarify, AddymanArchaeology completed the excavations at the Seabird Centre, not Historic Scotland. They funded the latter part of the investigation.
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