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Merseyside’s oldest skeleton gets a facelift

18 March 2016 by Liz

Leasowe Man

‘Leasowe Man’ as reconstructed by Facelab from his skull

We’re delighted to have a brand new computer-generated 3D model of the face of Merseyside’s oldest skeleton on display in the Timeline in the History Detectives gallery. The facial reconstruction of ‘Leasowe Man’ has been created by Liverpool John Moores University’s Facelab, a specialist department which teaches and researches the skills of facial reconstruction for historical research and forensic analysis.

The face of ‘Leasowe Man’ provides a strong connection with this individual and raises lots of questions both about his appearance, hair colour, eye colour, and skin tone for example; and about his life and experiences.

Since his discovery in the Victorian period, ‘Leasowe Man’ has had a complicated history.  He was found in 1864 when workmen were repairing an embankment along the seafront at Leasowe. He became known as ‘the prehistoric man of Cheshire’. Recently, however, the bones have been radiocarbon dated to between 1600 and 1900 years old so this man lived in the Roman period.

Analysis of the skeleton has revealved some information about ‘Leasowe Man’.  He was male and around 40 years old when he died. He was around 169cm tall, around 5’6 1/2.  His bones show signs of strong muscle attachments, suggesting he was physically active during his life. Analysis of the chemicals in his bones tells us that he didn’t eat very much fish, which is a little surprising for someone found so close to the sea!

The skeleton of Leasowe Man is part of the collections of the Natural History Museum in London, accession number PA SK 137. A replica of the skull is on display in the History Detectives gallery at the Museum of Liverpool.

  1. Debbie Bush says:

    How come the skeleton is in London? Couldn’t we have it in Merseyside, where it originated?

  2. Liz says:

    Hi Debbie,

    Thank you for your interest in this blog, and for your comment.

    Museums around the world hold collections which are from other geographical areas, and antiquarian finds made in the 19th century often ended up in collections in other places.

    The Natural History Museum (NHM) have been very supportive of the skeleton being used in research and displays in the region – the Museum of Liverpool Life (the predecessor of the Museum of Liverpool) borrowed the complete skeleton in 2005/6 for a temporary exhibition: ‘Living with the Romans’ http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/exhibitions/livingwithromans/index.aspx
    A 3D scan of the skull was undertaken and a replica skull and facial reconstruction were made at this time which are displayed in the Museum of Liverpool. http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/mol/exhibitions/livingwithromans/localfinds/leasowe_man.aspx
    The NHM have also enabled the scientific analysis of the bones to enhance our knowledge about the skeleton.

    At any time we have to make a selection of what we’re able to display in the Museum of Liverpool, but in the future we may work with the NHM again to borrow the skeleton when there’s an opportunity to display it within our gallery spaces.

    Liz

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