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Stirling Castle

Stirling Castle remains

Human Remains

Dr Jo Buckberry is co-ordinating an investigation of a small group of skeletons excavated at Stirling Castle in 1997-1998.  They were buried in a small building believed to be an early Chapel, and have been radiocarbon dated to the 13th to 16th centuries.

The project is investigating the biological identity of the skeletons, evidence of pathology and trauma. The project also includes an isotopic investigation of diet and migrations, undertaken in collaboration with Professor Julia Lee-Thorp, University of Oxford, and Dr Janet Montgomery, Durham University.

To date the skeletal analysis has identified a wide range of trauma, including healed bone fractures, healed sharp force trauma, and a large number of peri-mortem fractures to some of the skeletons. Most of the trauma identified is blunt-force, which makes it more difficult to interpret, but a small number of sharp-force and penetrating injuries suggest that some individuals died in violent conflict. Most of the skeletons date to the period of the Scottish Wars of Independence, and it is possible that they were involved in one of the many conflicts that occurred around Stirling during this time.


This project is funded by Historic Scotland. Preliminary results have featured on ‘History Cold Case’ (BBC 2) and ‘Braveheart: The True Story’ (Chanel 5). Jo has presented some of the research at the various conferences: the British Association of Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (2011, Edinburgh), the Paleopathology Association (2012, Portland Oregon, USA), and at Archaeometry (2012, Leuven, Belgium).

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