Facial reconstruction of Scottish woman persecuted for witchcraft

Forensic scientists have digitally reconstructed the face of Lilias Adie, who was persecuted for witchcraft and died in prison in 1704 before she could be burned for allegedly being a witch and having sex with the devil.

Facial reconstruction of Lilias Adie (by Dundee University)

Christopher Rynn, a forensic artist from Dundee University’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification carried out the reconstruction using 3D virtual sculpture and forensic facial reconstruction methods. The skull of the 18th century witch was exhumed in the 19th Century by antiquarians, and later ended up in the St Andrews University Museum and was photographed before it went missing during the 20th Century. The reconstruction was made from the photographs alone.

Photos of Lilias Adie’s skull made in 20th century (by Dundee University)

According to the records Lilias Adie was tortured in prison and it is believed she may have taken her own life. During the interrogation 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. Her body was buried under a large stone on the Fife coast and discovered in 2014 in collaboration between Radio Scotland History and archaeologist Douglas Spears.

Discovery of Adie’s grave in 2014 (by Douglas Speirs)

(after BBC News, Douglas Speirs & Louise Yeoman)

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