SCIENCE

Drumclay Crannog Murder Mystery Unearthed At Medieval Dig Site In Northern Ireland (PHOTOS)

Apr 24, 2013
Paul Faith / PA

Agatha Christie, eat your heart out.

Researchers wrapping up a nearly 10-month archeological dig in Northern Ireland believe they have found evidence of a centuries-old murder.

The excavation site at Drumclay Crannog -- a settlement perched on an artificial wooden island in a lake in the town of Enniskillen -- has yielded thousands of fascinating artifacts, including intricately decorated dress pins, a medieval board game, and the remains of dozens of flattened wooden houses. The site is believed to have been the home of a noble family between 600 and 1600 A.D.

"I think it would be fair to say that this is probably the pinnacle of my archaeological career," excavation director Dr. Nora Bermingham, who was appointed director of the Drumclay site by the Irish Department of Environment, told the Irish Herald. "I would say everybody here knows that they are working on an incredible excavation that we probably won't see the like of again. It's just amazing the material we are finding."

One especially intriguing discovery was a suspiciously buried skeleton that dates back to the 15th or 16th century. The remains belong to a female in her late teens. Researchers believe she may have met an untimely end, evidenced by her damaged skull and by the fact that she was not interred in a graveyard.

“The burial is an irregular event made outside of consecrated ground," Bermingham told The Huffington Post in an email. "It also appears to have been a re-burial rather than an original burial. There are so many questions surrounding this one simple burial."

Bermingham said that, while she believes there could have been foul play, further examination is needed to rule out natural causes.

"It is not yet known how the young woman died, but specialist analysis of the remains may identify the reason for her death," she said. "Analysis will look too at her overall health and diet. If, for example, she had suffered from malnutrition, signs of this may survive in her teeth and bones. The young woman's teeth were heavily worn and will shed light on her diet and perhaps even her status in life.”

The dig represents "one of the most important archaeological projects to have taken place in Northern Ireland in decades," she told HuffPost. "This one crannog means we have to revisit what we know and understand of early medieval society in Gaelic Ireland. The record extends back to at least the seventh century [A.D.] and we now have over one thousand years of occupation to reconstruct."

Many of the artifacts discovered will one day be displayed to the public, according to the Herald. However, the Drumclay site itself is scheduled to be reburied when a new road is paved as part of preparations for a G8 summit in June.

600-Year-Old Murder Mystery Unearthed In Ireland's Drumclay Crannog Archeological Dig (PHOTOS)

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