Is This the Face of a 16th-Century Pirate?

Remains were found under a school playground in Scotland
By Luke Roney,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 4, 2016 8:00 AM CST
Is This the Face of a 16th-Century Pirate?
A facial reconstruction based on the skull of the skeleton found beneath the playground at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh.   (Facebook)

Students at a primary school in Scotland are set to get a real-life forensics lesson thanks to a centuries-old skeleton—believed to be that of a pirate—found last year beneath their playground, the Telegraph reports. Workers unearthed the remains while doing survey work for a planned extension at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh. Initially believed to be from the Bronze Age due to their poor condition, the remains have since been carbon dated to the 16th or 17th century, according to a press release. Based on a facial reconstruction of the skull, it is believed that the skeleton belonged to a man in his 50s. Archaeologists have determined, the press release says, "that the skeleton was likely to have been a murder victim—and quite possibly a pirate."

That conclusion is supported by a gibbet—a type of gallows the release notes was "commonly used to execute witches and pirates"—that stood 600 years ago near where the school is now located. And, the man was unceremoniously buried close to sea, rather than in nearby graveyards. His body was likely "displayed in plain sight of ships to deter fellow pirates" before being "discarded in nearby wasteland," per the release. Given the school's proximity to the harbor in the historic fishing village of Newhaven, workers had anticipated finding remains of the original harbor and shipbuilding. The pupils think it’s fantastic that a skeleton was found deep underneath their playground," the head teacher says, adding that the archaeologists plan to hold a special lesson for them about the find. (Some ancient bones in Ireland are revealing the origins of early settlers there.)

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