Hero King's Unknown Face Now Revealed

Two versions, one with leprosy and one without, attempt to show us the leader
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2016 8:54 AM CST
Hero King's Unknown Face Now Revealed
Robert the Bruce as he may have looked in his prime 700 years ago.   (University of Glasgow)

Robert the Bruce, King of Scots from 1306 until his death in 1329 and perhaps most famous for defeating the English army at the Battle of Bannockburn, has been dead some 700 years, but we're just now getting a good idea of what he might have looked like. Without any renderings of the man from his own lifetime, any likenesses in statues and portraits were dreamed up by artists, reports the BBC. But thanks to two years of work by historians at the University of Glasgow, with help from the Liverpool John Moores University's Face Lab (best known for recreating the face of Richard the Third), experts have captured the man. They were able to do so thanks to a 200-year-old plaster cast of a skull found in a coffin buried under Dunfermline Abbey.

Whether the skull actually belongs to Robert the Bruce hasn't been confirmed, because he wasn't the only leader buried at Dunfermline and the skull was long ago reinterred. A press release explains a toe bone taken from the coffin wasn't returned to it, but extracting DNA from the bone would mean its destruction. That means no verification, and no genetic information about Robert the Bruce's physical characteristics. For now, the researchers say they relied on "statistical evaluation" in giving him brown hair and light brown eyes, reports the Telegraph. He is thought to possibly have had leprosy, so one version shows him with a thick neck and build—a "match for super-athletes today," per the release, and another with "a mild representation of leprosy," which would have affected his nose and jaw. (John McCain has claimed to be related.)

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