Revealed - the face of man who lived 4,500 years ago

Thankerton Man
Thankerton Man

Thankerton Man died young – possibly as young as 18 – and was respectfully laid to rest in a stone tomb at what is now Boatbridge Quarry.

That is what we already knew about a man who died up to 4,500 years ago, along with the fact that at 5ft 11ins he was unusually tall for someone living in prehistoric times.

But thanks to advanced work by forensic experts at Dundee University we now have a lifelike impression of what he looked like – and even know he may have shaved.

His likeness, based on a remarkably undamaged skull, is a flagship attraction at the newly-opened Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum.

Experts have previously produced convincing reconstructions of people as varied as Viking warriors and King Robert the Bruce, but the startlingly convincing image of this most ancient “local” man is seen as a unique window on the area’s murky prehistoric past.

Thankerton Man lived in an era where the countryside of what eventually became Scotland was heavily forested, sparsely populated, and teeming with wild life – including bears, wolves and wild boar.

The reconstruction was made possible by specialists in the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification (CAHID) at the University of Dundee, which is regarded as one of the world’s leading centres for facial reconstruction,

“Given its age, the skeleton of Thankerton Man was in excellent condition, which allowed us to get a strong impression of how he may have looked,” said Caroline Erolin, Lecturer in forensic and medical art at CAHID.

“Once we built the basic shape of his face we then looked at historical data to get a better idea of how a man would have looked at that time.

“For instance, we know they had the ability to shave.”

The stone cist in which he was laid to rest contained a finely-decorated beaker which had held food or drink for the deceased’s journey into the afterlife.

Dr Alison Sheridan, principal curator of early prehistory at National Museums Scotland, said: “This is a magnificent piece of work that really brings the past to light.

“It has spurred us on to arrange the DNA analysis of this man’s remains.”

Biggar and Upper Clydesdale Museum newly opened on Tuesday, and can now be visited between 10am and 5pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and 1pm to 5pm on Sunday (closed Monday) until October 31.

From November 1 until March 31 the museum will be open at weekends only, from 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 1pm to 5pm on Sunday.