Highlands & Islands

Forensic results could end speculation on Old Fox's bones

Wardlaw Mausoleum Image copyright Peter Moore/Geograph
Image caption Wardlaw Mausoleum is believed to be the resting place of a clan chief known as the Old Fox

The results of a forensic examination of bones linked to 270-year-old mystery are to be revealed next month.

Scientists, led by Dame Sue Black, have been studying what are believed to be the remains of notorious clan chief, Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat.

Nicknamed the Old Fox, he was executed in London in 1747 after supporting Bonnie Prince Charlie.

Prof Black and her team are to explain their findings at an event in Inverness on 18 January.

It has been organised by Wardlaw Mausoleum Trust.

A body, minus the head, is in a lead casket inside Wardlaw Mausoleum at Kirkhill, near Inverness.

It has long been believed that the skeleton is the Old Fox.

After being beheaded, Lord Lovat's body was buried under the floor of a chapel at the Tower of London, according to the official account.

However, according to the Clan Fraser, his body was intercepted by his supporters and taken back to Scotland where it was laid to rest in his family's mausoleum.

Image caption Scientists have carried out a forensic examination of the remains

The clan chief, the last person to be beheaded in Britain, is recorded in history as a charmer who was prepared to switch sides during and around the times of the Jacobite uprisings.

But the last of those risings, in which he supported Bonnie Prince Charlie, ended in defeat for the Jacobites at Culloden in April 1746. The following year, Lord Lovat was executed at Tower Hill in London.

It is said that several people who had gathered to watch the beheading died after the scaffold they were on collapsed.

Lord Lovat found this incident funny and is said to have been so visibly amused when he was executed that his death led to the phrase "laughing your head off".

University of Dundee-based Prof Black and her team have been working with historian Dan Snow on the forensic examination.

The results are to be revealed at the event in Inverness' Kingsmills Hotel.

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