Life & Times at Stirling

Life & Death at Stirling Castle:

The skeleton of a young knight killed in battle proves that it was a man's life, indeed.

Even though the warrior was probably only in his mid-20s he appears to have suffered several serious wounds in earlier fights. Indeed, he may have been living for some time with a large arrowhead in his chest. Bone re-growth around a dent in the front of the skull suggest he had recovered from a severe blow, possibly from an axe. The fatal wound, however, occurred when something, possibly a sword, sliced through his nose and jaw.

The unknown warrior, who lived in or around the early 1400s, was laid to rest under the floor of a chapel near the castle’s royal apartments. Peter Yeoman, Historic Scotland head of cultural resources, said: “We know little about this burial area but the evidence suggests it was sometimes used during extreme circumstances, for example to bury the dead during a siege. However, by using modern analysis techniques we have started to discover quite remarkable information about this man. It appears he died in his mid-20s after a short and violent life. His legs were formed in a way that was consistent with spending a lot of time on horseback, and the upper body points to someone who was well-muscled, perhaps due to extensive training with medieval weapons."


In addition to the three serious wounds, it seems the man had also lost a number of teeth – perhaps from a blow, or a fall from a horse. A large, tanged arrowhead was found in skeleton and appears to have struck through the back or under the arm.
Now, some of that is just that archaeologists are usually somewhat softer than Dr. Indiana Jones. I think most of us gentlemen who read this blog could post a tally of injuries that would make them think we'd led a "short, violent" life. Still, it shows a man who fought hard and often; was long in the saddle; and whose early death was answered by all the honor that his companions at arms could afford to show him.

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