History

Medieval Bones Burst From Ground When Tree Topples

When storms blew over a massive, centuries-old beech tree in Ireland, a Medieval teenager's remains became exposed.

The skeleton of a Medieval teenager has literally burst from the ground when storms in Sligo, Ireland, blew over a massive, centuries-old beech tree, revealing bones entangled in the roots.

"The upper part of the skeleton was raised into the air trapped within the root system," archaeologists Marion Dowd of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services, said in a statement.

"The lower leg bones, however, remained intact in the ground. Effectively as the tree collapsed, it snapped the skeleton in two," Dowd said.

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Analysis of the bones and radiocarbon dating suggest the remains belonged to a 17-20-year-old man who lived in the early Medieval period, between 1030 and 1200 A.D.

At over 5′ 10″ in height, the teenager was taller than the average Medieval person. He was almost certainly from a local Gaelic family and is believed to have toiled in physical labor from a young age, as suggested by mild spinal joint disease in the skeleton.

The young man died a violent death, according to archaeologists. Two stab wounds, probably inflicted by a knife, are clearly visible to the ribs and the left hand.

"Whether he died in battle or was killed during a personal dispute, we will never know for sure," Dowd said.

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The man was given a Christian burial. However, it is not known whether he was interred in a graveyard or in an isolated burial.

"While historical records state the presence of a church and graveyard in the area, no above-ground trace survives and no other skeletons were encountered during the excavations," Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services said.

Further analysis of the remains is currently underway.

An archaeoolgist is shown excavating bones from the roots of a centuries-old tree in Sligo, Ireland.

Work to expand the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy has revealed dozens of well preserved skeletons, suggesting that a necropolis extends beneath the renown museum. The remains belong to about 60 individuals of various ages and sex who probably succumbed to a devastating epidemic.

In a five-month excavation, the archaeologists uncovered multiple graves. Several coins, found within the burials and dating between the end of the 4th and the beginning of the 5th century A.D., helped date the skeletons.

The burials were made in a hurry and with the clear purpose of using less possible space. Graves contained up to ten bodies.

In most cases, bodies were laid side-by-side in opposite directions, feet against heads, while small, empty spaces were fitted with the bodies of children. Since the skeletons lack of signs of wounds or malnutrition, the archaeologists believe the cause of death was a lethal epidemic, such as the plague, cholera, dysentery or the flu. DNA testing should provide the definitive answer