1,000-Year-Old Skeleton Of Possible Murder Victim Found In Roots Of Fallen Tree

A 1,000-year-old medieval skeleton was found hanging from the roots of a beech tree in Collooney, Ireland, according to Irish Archaeology. The bones were discovered after a storm uprooted the tree from the ground earlier in the year.


The young man’s leg bones. Photo: Irish Archaeology

A preliminary analysis reportedly found that the remains were of a young man with knife wounds who might have “died a violent death inflicted by a sharp blade.” Was it a battle wound or something more viciously personal (i.e., murder)?

Who knows — it happened a really, really long time ago. In any case, the man in question is believed to have been between 17 and 25 when he was killed, sometime between 1030 and 1200 AD.

Related: Brooklyn Woman Reportedly Sleeps Next To Mom’s Corpse For Years

Strangely, the top part of the man’s remains were found in the tree’s roots, while the bottom parts were found in the ground. This indicates the skeleton was “snapped in two” when the tree collapsed, according to The Huffington Post.

The young man was about 5’10,” according to HuffPo, and may have had mild spinal joint disease, perhaps from doing physical labor from a young age. He reportedly received a proper Christian burial. Though no other burials are known to have taken place around there, historical records do show that there may have been a graveyard and church in the vicinity.

Bizarre, indeed.

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Irish Archaeology



Irish Archaeology

  • Debra Obinna

    This will be very interesting to do a DNA test to try and find relatives that may be alive and wondering what happened to him?

    • Nicole Odom

      It says it happened between 1000 & 1200 AD. Thats about a thousand years ago. I doubt he has any relatives alive or anyone who’d remember him lol! 😜

      • April Amlong

        um yeah he could its called ancesery! we all came from somewhere, 1000 years ago, we all had families back then.

        • Zsa123

          Um yeah you cant do a DNA test on a thousand year old skeleton!

          • Vanessalndvrd5

            I’m not sure, but I think you can. I think they would test the bone marrow instead. It would be very difficult to match it to anyone now, unless they checked everyone and compared the dna. I’m not sure though

          • Ryan Sebring

            The process would be to extract DNA or DNA fragments from bones or bony tissues, most likely the femur or teeth, where the surrounding bone and/or enamel helps preserve internal soft tissues. Even a partial sample could be analyzed. Once any nucleic acids are found, a digest and restriction mapping (somewhat like you see on crime shows) could be performed to find an ethnic association. Race, color, general background traits could then be determined. If sufficient nucleic acid was discovered and it’s of sufficient quality, small point source markers could be gleaned to shrink down his origins even greater, perhaps different places in Ireland that traditionally did not intermarry. To determine his exact lineage, they’d need to acquire his mitochondrial DNA, a small subset of DNA that is matrilineal (as in, it’s passed from mother to children, the father contributes none.) You have the same mitoDNA as your mother, she has the same as her mother… back through time. If they could extract and sequence this type of DNA, and they found a match with mito DNA of a current living person, it’s statistically likely that this young man is related. It could not be a distant father though, he would have to have been a brother or uncle to the present day person. Vanessa is correct though. To find a present day match, the present day person would have to have had their mito DNA sequenced as well. The ppreliminary techniques I mentioned opening this paragraph could help researchers focus their searches towards a single ethnicity if they want to try it.

          • Vanessalndvrd5

            Thank you very much for this info

          • Zsa123

            But the chances of finding any proteins in a thousand yr old skeleton is impossible. This skeleton wasnt mummified or preserved in any sort of way.

          • Ryan Sebring

            They’re not looking for proteins, they are looking for nucleic acids, either RNA or DNA. And you’re correct in assuming that most of the fleshy bits will have degraded over time, especially those that are directly exposed to the elements. However, preservation is in fact apparent, in that they were able to find bones at all. Most bodies are quickly degraded and/or scavenged, bones included, in less than 8-10 years if exposed to the the climate that’s prevalent in Ireland. It is possible that due to site conditions (anaerobic, acidified, saturated, etc.) that some nucleic acids remain, in the body areas I indicated, such as teeth and the heads of bones. Are they going to find the guy’s intact tongue? No. Could they find a molar secured in the jawline aggregated in fine packed clay that prevented decomposers from infiltrating and destroying his DNA? Very possibly.

          • Brook Melee

            What about the Bog Man?

          • watcherofolde

            Yes remember that town that found a skeleton thousands of years old and did DNA on everyone in the district, and they did find a descendant

          • Rachel Booker

            You can, indeed, get DNA from a corpse of this age. At the very least, mitochondrial DNA can indicate the maternal line. A natural mummy was found in a cave near Cheddar, England several years ago. He was nicknamed Cheddar Man and DNA testing was completed. A high school teacher in the area, who was a transplant (his family was from the other side of the country and, to the best of his knowledge had never been to Cheddar) decided it would be fun to DNA test his students and see if any of them were descendants. Everyone was surprised to learn the only one in town related to Cheddar Man was the teacher from away.

        • Lindsey

          You never know. It could be a passed down family story. About a son/brother or whatever who just vanished one day.

  • Naked Preacher

    I’d love to solve THAT cold case. Two possibilities: 1. He was killed in battle. 2. He was killed in a duel. If he were a murder victim I don’t think his killer would have bothered to give him a Christian burial which the article says he got. On the other hand, you have to wonder what they had in mind when they buried him and then planted a tree over him as if they were trying ti hide him. Or, perhaps it was symbolic; they wanted his death to somehow produce life (the tree).

  • Brook Melee

    This shit happens all the time. Big deal.

  • IvanRider

    Here’s the interesting part: The human population doubles on average every 40-100 years. And that’s in spite wars, disease, famine, crime, et. al. Counting back 1000 years, we have 10-25 doublings. Limit that to Ireland, and it may be possible with genealogy to find possible matches. It would take a very skilled genealogist to do this level of detective work, but it’s not impossible.