A 2000-Year-Old Scottish Female Druid, Rises From The Grave

A 2000-Year-Old Scottish Female Druid, Rises From The Grave

A 2000-Year-Old Scottish Female Druid, Rises From The Grave

A Scottish student recreated her head and face in a 3D wax model using the skull of a rare Celtic female druid. Stornoway’s toothless old woman, known as ‘ Hilda, ‘ is believed to have lived on Stornoway’s west coast of Scotland and it is estimated that she was over 60 when she died.

Hilda lived in the Iron Age and a report on the website of the University of Dundee explains that Karen Fleming, a student of MSc forensic art and facial identification at the University of Dundee, brought the skull back to life.

The 3D wax model of the toothless woman was recreated from the measurements of an ancient skull kept at the Anatomical Museum of the University of Edinburgh, according to an article on STV. Hilda is described as one of six “Hebrid Druids given in 1833 to the Edinburgh Phrenological Society.”

Karen told Hilda, “It has been a fantastic character to recreate. It is clear from the skull that she was toothless before she died, which isn’t too surprising considering the diet of folks back then”. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of the woman was how long she lived, The average female died about the age of 30 while Hilda was at least 60 years old.

The wax model of 60-year-old ”Druid of the Hebrides” produced by Karen Flemming.

People from the social elite consumed healthier diets in almost every ancient culture around the world and thus lived longer. An example of this is presented in an article in Science News that discusses “the 600-year-old Peruvian Collagua people in South America who formed artificially elongated, teardrop-shaped heads.”Not only were the elites involved in cranial banding, but their diets were much better than the farming classes and they live nearly twice as long.

The scientists were unable to Carbon 14 date Hilda’s skull and Karen told The Scotsman: “It’s impossible to know for sure when she died”. However, the 1833 journal estimated that the woman had died between 55 BC to 400 AD and also that she was Celtic in origin.

The reconstruction was based on this female druid skull from Stornaway in the Hebrides.

Scottish scientists have a ‘thing’ for 3D recreations of historic figures and it was only in 2016 that the BBC announced a team of historians had “unveiled a digitally-reconstructed image of the face of Robert the Bruce almost 700 years after his death”. Robert the Bruce is perhaps best remembered for his victory over the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 and just like Hilda, the 3D image of the famous Scottish king, who was featured in the 2018 Netflix blockbuster ‘Outlaw King’, was cast from what is believed to be the king’s actual skull.

Again, similarly to Hilda’s recreated skull, no contemporary artworks existed to help the scientists fine-tune what King Robert the Bruce actually looked like, and this caused University of Glasgow historians to team up with Liverpool’s John Moores University (LJMU) to provide as close a representation as possible.

Druids were the ancient priests of Britain and Ireland and they have stoked the imaginations of popular audiences for centuries. Portrayed as white-robed wise men carrying golden sickles and staffs, very little hard evidence of these powerful yet elusive figures exist, and less yet when it comes to female druids.

A Digitalmedievalist article looking at ‘ women druids ’ provides a packet of data which summarizes the scanty evidence of them in myths and in classical texts. A reference to bandrui appears in the medieval Irish tales and Conchobar mac Nessa’s mother Nessa was a druid. The legendary mythological hero Finn was raised by a female druid and the banflaith was the ‘women poets’.

Mythology has several words for female druids, such as bandrui.

In H. D. Rankin’s 1937 book Celts and the Classical World the author discusses Scriptores Histories Augustae from the 4th century AD regarding “Roman emperors who consulted female druids”. There also exists evidence in Roman texts, for example, in Flavius Vopiscus , which discusses encounters between “the Diocletian and female druids”.Hilda, the Celtic druid, will be displayed at this year’s Masters Show at Dundee University, which begins on Friday the 14th of August.

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