The long-running mystery about the final resting place of Highlands clan chief Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat has reached its conclusion.
An expert team led by leading British forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black has carried out detailed investigations using the most modern techniques, including DNA testing, to determine whether the body is that of “The Old Fox.”
The Old Fox is known to TV audiences today as the grandfather of the fictional Jamie Fraser, lead character in the “Outlander” series.
Professor Black told an audience of more than 400 at a special event organised by the Royal Society of Edinburgh at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness that the headless body in the lead casket was a woman, and one aged around 25 or a little more.
She said: “We can say with absolute certainty that these are not the remains of The Old Fox.
“The remains were in poor condition, very wet, in common with remains that have been a long time in a wooden or lead coffin, so in line with what we expected.
“The area of the body most indicative of whether remains are male or female is the shape of the pelvis, and two areas of the pelvis in particular. In both areas, these remains were very feminine. There is no way that these were the remains of an 80-year-old six-foot man who suffered from gout and arthritis.
“We estimate these are the remains of a young woman, probably aged 25-35. We understand that there are some possibilities that she might be a member of the Fraser family, and further DNA testing is being carried out.”
Lord Lovat’s body was said to have been buried at the Tower of London but there were rival claims from the clan that it was “intercepted” by his loyal followers and spirited back to Scotland.
The mystery deepened with the discovery of a headless body in a damaged lead casket in the cemetery, Wardlaw Mausoleum at Kirkhill, near Inverness.
Now the probe will focus on the identity of the woman, to find out if she was connected to the Fraser family.
Professor Black added: “We simply don’t know what happened to the head, but it may be that it has been taken as a trophy many years ago. The DNA testing should confirm whether the remains are those of a member of the Fraser family, in which case the casket may well have simply been put to use. But if the remains are not a member of the family, then we are faced with more of a poser as to how she came to be buried in the casket.”
Image: William Hogarth, British Artist and Engraver, Engraving, published 1745