Saturday, 1 October 2022

Whithorn Woman

Whithorn Priory in Galloway is found in the very south west of Scotland.  A church is attested by the great Bede in 731 AD to have been found here in 700 AD.  It is rumoured than Ninian founded a church here around the year 400.  A Roman coin engraved with Emperor Constans (337-350 AD) was found near the altar, indicating something was in place at the time.  
The locals like to refer to Whithorn as the 'Cradle of Christianity' in Scotland, and possibly in the Britain we know today, and they may not be far wrong.
Several 'Digs' have uncovered Bishop Walter, who died in 1235, his ring and crozier defining him.  Research indicates the Bishop was 'portly,' and had a diet rich in fish.  This was not what the locals ate, even though the sea is close by.  Another clergyman of the time lies nearby.  The second man may not be a clergyman, yet he is interred close to the altar.  He had a cleft Jaw, which would make reading Mass difficult, yet this is where he is buried.  
The picture above is is the face of a woman who was buried amongst the Lay people (the lower orders) in what was later to become the 'Glebe Field.'  The Glebe Field was used to sustain the minister of a church.  This woman is believed to have lived in the 1300s.  This is in the days of Robert the Bruce, and life was often full of war.  She is in her early  20s, and when she died she was buried on a bed of shells, for reasons unknown.  The sea lies just down the road and conjecture as to the reason for the shells could go on for ever.  Nothing else is known of her.  Clearly not rich, she is just a woman of her time who died early.
I have noticed quite a few of these reconstructed faces appearing over the past few years.  Allowing for the difficulties in reconstructing an actual perfect likeness I find these fascinating.  While they cannot perfectly reveal the actual person, their habits, dress, attitudes and the like often remain unknown or guesswork, they do show an insight into life in the past.  It makes our forefathers real, no longer just a name on a rich mans tomb, or a mass of bodies buried in a local graveyard and soon forgotten.  The past becomes real, and if you are descended from this area it is always possible this may been one of your relatives.  If I remember correctly, a man in Cheddar Grove was through DNA research, found to contain the same DNA as a skeleton dating back into prehistory found in the area.  
One thing soon becomes clear, people today, mobile phones, cars, technological adept, are no different from those who have gone before.  What has been will be again, as it were.  Wherever such reconstructions are found they always turn out to be human, just like you and I, and therefore carry all the same sin nature we carry.  Humans never change, and these reconstructions prove this.

Ruaridh's Blog is full of info on Whithorn 



the fly in the web said...

I'd seen the headlines, but did not realise this concerned Galloway until reading your post. Whatever the period we're a'Jock Tamson's bairns.

Adullamite said...

Fly, Jock Tamson indeed.