Celtic druid gets a face

Researchers are reconstructing the appearance of a Celtic woman from the Hebrides

Eye to eye with a Celtic druid: forensic scientist Karen Fleming with her reconstructed face of the druid "Hilda" © University of Dundee
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Weise Alte: Little is known about the female druids of the Celts until today. Now a researcher has reconstructed the face of one of these wise women. The druid lived on the Scottish Hebrides some 2, 000 years ago and was unusually old for the time: the reconstruction reveals the toothless, wrinkled face of a woman of about 60 years.

The Celts were spread throughout Europe during the Iron Age - from Anatolia to Ireland and Scandinavia. But because these translated as "the brave" known ethnic groups did not have writing, the knowledge of their way of life is still patchy. Archaeological finds, however, suggest that the Celts beheaded and embalmed their enemies defeated in the war. Moreover, women were anything but equal in their society.

This is what the druid, Hilda, died about 2, 000 years ago. © Karen Fleming / University of Dundee

Unusually long life

Nevertheless, there were also Celtic women who enjoyed a high status. Like high-ranking men, these Druids were privileged and better nourished than most of their contemporaries. As a result, they often lived much longer - as the druid "Hilda". This Keltin probably lived in the Scottish Hebrides sometime between the ages of 40 and 400 AD. She was already more than 60 years old when she died.

"The typical life expectancy of women during this time was around 31 years, " explains Karen Fleming from the University of Dundee. "The fact that Hilda lived significantly longer during the Iron Age speaks in favor of a privileged position." The skull of this Celtic woman was first discovered in the Hebrides in 1833 and since then in the Anatomical Museum of the University of Edinburgh kept.

Typical face of a senior woman

As the Druid "Hilda" once looked, now shows a face reconstruction, which Fleming has carried out on the basis of this Sch dels. Similar to forensic reconstructions, she used data on the typical position and thickness of the facial muscles to rebuild the face of the celtin almost from the bone outwards. display

The finished reconstruction shows the face of an old woman with an elongated face and distinctive chin. "She was toothless when she died, which is hardly surprising given the people's diet back then, " says Fleming. "It's all the more impressive how long she lived. I think she looks like many older women I've met in the course of my life. "

Wax figure in the passenger seat

Whimsical: Because Fleming did her work partly in Edinburgh and partly in Dundee, she had to move the druid's wax model back and forth. During the heat wave of the summer of 2018, she could only prevent the wax from melting by transporting the druid sitting in the passenger seat of her air-conditioned car. "I am sure that this was a sight that many passers-by will not soon forget, " says Fleming.

Source: University of Dundee

- Nadja Podbregar