Face of Pictish man murdered 1400 years ago revealed
The victim suffered at least five fractures to his head and face, experts said.
The face of a Pictish man who was "brutally" bludgeoned to death 1400 years ago has been reconstructed by a Scots scientist.
The skeleton of the man was found by archaeologists in an "unusual cross-legged position" with large stones holding down his legs and arms in a cave in the Black Isle.
Forensic anthropologists identified at least five fractures to his face and skull, including broken teeth and a shattered jaw.
A bone sample sent for radiocarbon dating indicates the victim was killed sometime between 430 and 630 AD, commonly referred to as the Pictish period in Scotland.
Dame Professor Sue Black, of Dundee University, whose team of forensic experts carried out the reconstruction work, said: "This is a fascinating skeleton in a remarkable state of preservation which has been expertly recovered.
"From studying his remains we learned a little about his short life but much more about his violent death.
"As you can see from the facial reconstruction he was a striking young man but he met a very brutal end, suffering a minimum of five severe injuries to his head."
She added: "The first impact was by a circular cross-section implement that broke his teeth on the right side.
"The second may have been the same implement, used like a fighting stick which broke his jaw on the left.
"The third resulted in fracturing to the back of his head as he fell from the blow to his jaw with a tremendous force possibly on to a hard object perhaps stone.
"The fourth impact was intended to end his life as probably the same weapon was driven through his skull from one side and out the other as he lay on the ground.
"The fifth was not in keeping with the injuries caused in the other four where a hole, larger than that caused by the previous weapon, was made in the top of the skull."
The skeleton was discovered when a team of volunteers were digging to determine when the Ross-shire cave might have been occupied.
Hearths and extensive iron-working debris were found at the site, before the discovery of the skeletal remains.
Excavation leader Steven Birch, of the Rosemarkie Caves Project, said: "Having specialised in prehistoric cave archaeology in Scotland for some years now, I am fascinated with the results.
"Here, we have a man who has been brutally killed, but who has been laid to rest in the cave with some consideration -placed on his back, within a dark alcove, and weighed down by beach stones.
"While we don't know why the man was killed, the placement of his remains gives us insight into the culture of those who buried him.
"Perhaps his murder was the result of interpersonal conflict - or was there a sacrificial element relating to his death?"