Highlands & Islands

Orkney link to Pictish man buried in Highland cave

Skeleton Image copyright Rosemarkie Caves Project
Image caption The Pictish man's skeleton was discovered during a cave excavation in the Black Isle three years ago

A Pictish man who was killed and then buried in a cave in the Highlands 1,400 years ago had links to Orkney, according to genetic analysis.

Archaeologists found the man's skeleton buried in a recess of a cave at Rosemarkie in the Black Isle in 2016.

He was discovered with stones weighing down his limbs while his head had been battered multiple times.

Researchers have compared his nuclear genome with a worldwide dataset of ancient and modern populations.

His genetics grouped him together with other Iron Age individuals from Scotland, including the Knowe of Skea in Westray in Orkney.

Further more detail analyses as part of the Rosemarkie Caves Project are continuing and will be able to say more about his origins.

Image copyright Dundee University
Image caption Previous research has included a facial reconstruction of the man

Previous studies have included a facial reconstruction and analysis that showed he had a high-protein diet suggesting he ate foods enjoyed by people of high status.

The man, known to archaeologists as Rosemarkie Man, stood at 5ft 6ins and was aged about 30 at the time of his death.

The cave burial could have been a way to place his body at an "entrance to the underworld" as part of a ritual, according to the caves project.

Forensic anthropologist Dame Sue Black previously led a University of Dundee team in an examination of his injuries. The team concluded he suffered a brutal death.

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