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Facial Reconstruction Brings 900-Year-Old Priest “Back To Life”

Lincoln Cathedral, located in Lincoln, England, was the site of an excavation project last September that unearthed the bones of more than 50 people who had been buried under the church. The church is over 900 years old and was consecrated in 1092.

At almost 1,000 years old, Lincoln Cathedral certainly has a lot of history, including a very intense first hundred years as it was severely damaged in a fire in 1141 and an earthquake in 1185 that destroyed the majority of the church.

One of the people who were buried under the church was confirmed as a priest because of the paten and chalice that were found next to him (the items date back to the 12th and 13th centuries). Even though nobody knows his name, thanks to facial reconstruction software, we now know what he looked like around 900 years ago when he was alive.

(Not the chalice and paten found buried next to the priest.)

Forensic artist Hew Morrison used his digital editing talents to give the priest a face by analyzing the data and pictures of the skull that were taken by Allen Archaeology who was the team that performed the excavation. Amazingly, Morrison reconstructed the priest’s face based only on the bones that were found at the site and he was even able to add skin pores and hair follicles to the image.

Morrison was able to determine that the priest had an asymmetric jaw which he represented in the picture by raising the right side of his jaw line a bit higher than the left side. As for his hair and eye color, he had to make an educated guess.

In an interview with Express UK, Natasha Powers, who is the senior manager of Allen Archaeology, explained this further, “He’s got close eyes and a wide head, that was determined from his skull and if you look closely, a slightly asymmetrical jaw as well,” adding, “The idea is not that it’s a photograph of him, but that if you showed it to someone who knew him, they would know it was him.”

Lincoln Cathedral

It is believed that his hair was starting to thin on top and that he died when he was in his late 30s or early 40s. He was a shorter man measuring 169cm tall or 5.5 feet. By analyzing his bones, experts couldn’t find any signs that he suffered from any significant injury or disease while he was alive with the exception of a small lump. Additionally, a small hole was observed in his vertebra where blood vessels are normally located. They also found a deep bruise located on his right leg which could have been caused by him falling against a hard surface. Another interesting thing that they found was that he had three pieces of bones at the back of his skull where most people usually have just one.

The incredible real-life photo of the priest can be seen here. Other historic artifacts that were unearthed at the site are being analyzed and some of them should eventually be on display at the new Lincoln Cathedral visitor center which is currently being built.

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Jocelyne LeBlanc works full time as a writer and is also an author with two books currently published. She has written articles for several online websites, and had an article published in a Canadian magazine on the most haunted locations in Atlantic Canada. She has a fascination with the paranormal and ghost stories, especially those that included haunted houses. In her spare time, she loves reading, watching movies, making crafts, and watching hockey.