Secrets of the Bishops emerge from graves in Scotland

The remains of Bishop Henry were found with key grave goodsThe bones of six bishops buried more than 600 years ago have been identified using new hi-tech methods.
The medieval bishops, who died between 1200-1360, were discovered during an excavation at Whithorn Priory in Galloway between 1957 and 1967.It was known the remains were of powerful churchmen of the Middle Ages, but their identities were a mystery.

But Historic Scotland research has shown when the men died, who several of them were and even what they ate.

Radiocarbon dating helped identify the graves of bishops Walter (died 1235), Henry (d. 1293), Michael (d. 1359) and Thomas (d. 1362).

The bones of six bishops buried more than 600 years ago have been identified using new hi-tech methods.
The medieval bishops, who died between 1200-1360, were discovered during an excavation at Whithorn Priory in Galloway between 1957 and 1967.

It was known the remains were of powerful churchmen of the Middle Ages, but their identities were a mystery.

But Historic Scotland research has shown when the men died, who several of them were and even what they ate.

Radiocarbon dating helped identify the graves of bishops Walter (died 1235), Henry (d. 1293), Michael (d. 1359) and Thomas (d. 1362).

This has now been identified as the grave of bishop Simon (d. 1355).

Peter Yeoman, senior archaeologist with Historic Scotland, said: “This has been a rare opportunity to build up a picture of life and death among Scotland’s rich and powerful churchmen of the Middle Ages. A chalice, platter, crozier head and ring were among the finds in the dig

“Very fine gilded altar vessels, a gold pontifical ring, and the remains of a wooden crozier were found with the skeleton in the central grave, all of which showed he was a bishop.

“But it was only when we had the radiocarbon dating that we were able to say it was probably Bishop Henry who died in 1293, who had been important in rebuilding parts of the priory after it was raided and damaged by soldiers in 1286.”

The finds made during the excavation are all in the collections of National Museums Scotland.

The research was carried out by Edinburgh-based Headland Archaeology on behalf of Historic Scotland.

This article first appeared on BBC News Scotland

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