Scientists reconstruct face of Scotland’s scorned ‘witch’

alibhai/ October 30, 2017/ New Gadgets/ 0 comments

  • Lilias Adie died while being held in prison in Torryburn, Fife in 1704
  • Experts believe she was in her 60s, and was frail with failing eyesight
  • Researchers believe it is likely to be the only accurate likeness of a Scottish ‘witch’ in existence as most were burned

The face of an 18th-century ‘witch’ who died in jail before she could be burned for her ‘crimes’ has been digitally reconstructed.

Lilias Adie, from Torryburn, Fife, died in 1704 while held in prison for her ‘confessed’ crimes of being a witch and having sex with the devil. 

Researchers believe it is likely to be the only accurate likeness of a Scottish ‘witch’ in existence as most were burned, destroying any hope of reconstructing their faces from skulls.

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The face of an 18th-century 'witch' who died in jail before she could be burned for her 'crimes' has been digitally reconstructed. Researchers believe it is likely to be the only accurate likeness of a Scottish 'witch' in existence

The face of an 18th-century ‘witch’ who died in jail before she could be burned for her ‘crimes’ has been digitally reconstructed. Researchers believe it is likely to be the only accurate likeness of a Scottish ‘witch’ in existence

WHO WAS LILIAS ADIE? 

Lilias Adie, from Torryburn, Fife, died in 1704 while held in prison for her ‘confessed’ crimes of being a witch and having sex with the devil.  

Her remains were buried on the beach between the low and the high tide marks under a large stone. 

By the 19th century, scientific curiosity outweighed zombie fears and some antiquarians dug up Ms Adie’s remains to study and display.

Her skull eventually went to the St Andrews University Museum, where it was photographed more than 100 years ago.

It then went missing at some point in the 20th century but the images remain and are held by the National Library of Scotland.

The records of her accusers paint a picture of a woman, possibly in her 60s, who may have been frail for some time, with failing eyesight.

They also suggest a woman who showed courage in holding off her accusers and their demands for the names of others to interrogate and kill.

BBC Radio Scotland’s Time Travels programme unmasked her face by working with a forensic artist at the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification at the University of Dundee.

Presenter Susan Morrison said: ‘It was a truly eerie moment when the face of Lilias suddenly appeared.

‘Here was the face of a woman you could have a chat with, though knowing her story it was a wee bit difficult to look her in the eye.’

Dr Christopher Rynn, who carried out the work using state-of-the-art 3D virtual sculpture, said: ‘When the reconstruction is up to the skin layer, it’s a bit like meeting somebody and they begin to remind you of people you know, as you’re tweaking the facial expression and adding photographic textures.

‘There was nothing in Lilias’ story that suggested to me that nowadays she would be considered as anything other than a victim of horrible circumstances, so I saw no reason to pull the face into an unpleasant or mean expression and she ended up having quite a kind face, quite naturally.’

Ms Adie had been sentenced to be burned to death but died in prison beforehand, with one theory being she committed suicide.

Her remains were buried on the beach between the low and the high tide marks under a large stone.

Locals had sought to weigh down Ms Adie in her grave, perhaps to prevent her coming back to haunt them.

By the 19th century, scientific curiosity outweighed zombie fears and some antiquarians dug up Ms Adie’s remains to study and display.

Her skull eventually went to the St Andrews University Museum, where it was photographed more than 100 years ago.

By the 19th century, scientific curiosity outweighed zombie fears and some antiquarians dug up Ms Adie's remains to study and display. Her skull eventually went to the St Andrews University Museum, where it was photographed more than 100 years ago

By the 19th century, scientific curiosity outweighed zombie fears and some antiquarians dug up Ms Adie’s remains to study and display. Her skull eventually went to the St Andrews University Museum, where it was photographed more than 100 years ago

It then went missing at some point in the 20th century but the images remain and are held by the National Library of Scotland.

The records of her accusers paint a picture of a woman, possibly in her 60s, who may have been frail for some time, with failing eyesight.

They also suggest a woman who showed courage in holding off her accusers and their demands for the names of others to interrogate and kill.

Programme historian Louise Yeoman added: ‘I think she was a very clever and inventive person. The point of the interrogation and its cruelties was to get names.

The records of her accusers paint a picture of a woman, possibly in her 60s, who may have been frail for some time, with failing eyesight. They also suggest a woman who showed courage in holding off her accusers and their demands for the names of others to interrogate and kill

The records of her accusers paint a picture of a woman, possibly in her 60s, who may have been frail for some time, with failing eyesight. They also suggest a woman who showed courage in holding off her accusers and their demands for the names of others to interrogate and kill

Lilias Adie, from Torryburn, Fife, died in 1704 while held in prison for her 'confessed' crimes of being a witch and having sex with the devil

Lilias Adie, from Torryburn, Fife, died in 1704 while held in prison for her ‘confessed’ crimes of being a witch and having sex with the devil

‘Lilias said that she couldn’t give the names of other women at the witches’ gatherings as they were masked like gentlewomen.

‘She only gave names which were already known and kept up coming up with good reasons for not identifying other women for this horrendous treatment – despite the fact it would probably mean there was no let-up for her.

‘It’s sad to think her neighbours expected some terrifying monster when she was actually an innocent person who’d suffered terribly. The only thing that’s monstrous here is the miscarriage of justice.’

The Halloween Time Travels special airs in the UK at 13.30 on Tuesday 31 October.

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

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