The tree was 200 years old, but hidden beneath it was a mystery from nearly 1,000 years ago: the skeleton of a young man who died a brutal death in medieval Ireland.
The tree in the town of Collooney, about 125 miles northwest of Dublin, was toppled by a storm, revealing the remains of a man who had been between 17 and 20 years old when he was killed.
Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services, which was brought into analyze the discovery, wrote on Facebook that radiocarbon dating places the skeleton to between 1030 and 1200, and that it had knife wounds in the ribs and hand.
“As excavations go, this was certainly an unusual situation,” Marion Dowd of Sligo-Leitrim Archaeological Services told the Irish Times. "The upper part of the skeleton was raised into the air trapped within the root system."
The skull and ribs are visible toward the top of the roots in this image, posted by the company on Facebook:
"The lower leg bones, however, remained intact in the ground," Dowd told the paper. "Effectively as the tree collapsed, it snapped the skeleton in two.”
Dowd said the victim was about 5'10", making him taller than average for the era. He also had mild spinal joint disease, a sign of physical labor from an early age, according to the Times.
Here's an image of the lower half of the skeleton:
The company wrote on Facebook that the young man had been given a formal Christian burial. However, the location is somewhat mystifying.
"No other burials are known from the area but historical records do indicate a possible graveyard and church in the vicinity," Dowd told Irish Archaeology.
The remains are still under analysis, the company said.
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