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Face revealed of Hilda the druid who died during Iron Age

University student recreates 3D wax reconstruction of toothless female from Stornoway.

By STV News

Published 14 Aug 2019.

The face of one of Scotland's oldest druids has been recreated by a student.

'Hilda' is believed to have been from Stornoway and was more than 60 years old when she died during the Iron Age.

Karen Fleming, a MSc Forensic Art and Facial Identification student at Dundee University, made a 3D wax reconstruction of the toothless female.

Hilda was recreated from an ancient skull held at Edinburgh University's Anatomical Museum and is described as one of six 'Druids of the Hebrides' skulls presented to the Phrenological Society of Edinburgh in 1833.

Karen believes Hilda, although thousands of years old, displays many physical attributes that remain recognisable today.

The student, from Edinburgh, said, "Hilda was a fascinating character to recreate. It's clear from the skull she was toothless before she died, which isn't too surprising considering the diet of folk back then but it was impressive how long she lived."

A female's life expectancy at this time was roughly 31 years, but it is now thought that living longer during the Iron Age is indicative of a privileged background.

Karen said: "It's impossible to know for sure when she died as we were unable to carbon date the skull, but assuming the information in the journal from 1833 is correct, Hilda passed away anytime between 55BC to 400AD and was of Celtic origin.

"I think she looks like many older women I've met in my life and I'm proud of that."

Painstakingly reproducing features in wax, Karen revealed Hilda almost melted during the summer before she had been fully brought back to life.

She said: "It's funny to say it now but I had to keep parts of Hilda, like her wax modelled ears, in the fridge for most of the summer.

"As a mature student who commutes from Edinburgh, I often had to keep her cool in the car, strapped up in the passenger seat. I'm sure that's a sight passers-by won't forget seeing."

Hilda will go on display at this year's Masters Show at Dundee University, which begins on Friday.