Picts, pilgrims, and pathologies: bioarchaeological approaches to reconstructing past lifeways in medieval Scotland, 18 July

14 March 2023
Join Dr Shirley Curtis-Summers for a presentation on what bioarchaeological analysis can tell us about the lives and deaths of Scotland's ancient communities.

18 July 2023, 6.30pm UK time


Bioarchaeological analysis of human remains can reveal important insights into the lives of past peoples, such as diet, inter-personal violence, health, and migration.

Insights into past lifeways

Comprehensive research on skeletons from the Pictish monastic site at Portmahomack (Easter Ross), and recent analysis of skeletons from medieval burials at Whithorn Cathedral Priory (Dumfries) have revealed important insights into past lifeways. Medieval religious centres such as these attracted sick and needy pilgrims seeking prayer and healing, although for some, it would be their final resting place.

This paper will draw on bioarchaeological research and multidisciplinary evidence to reveal what we can learn about the lives, and deaths of people from Scotland’s past.  

Event details

Join Dr Shirley Curtis-Summers for a live c.45-minute illustrated online talk on 18 July at 6.30pm UK time, followed by approximately 30 minutes of questions from the audience. The registration fee includes on-demand access to the event recording (released the following day) for 7 days after the broadcast.

The event will be chaired by Dr Allan Kennedy, Lecturer in History at the University of Dundee and consultant editor of History Scotland magazine.

Registration fee: £10 - includes 7-day access to the event recording. Starts 6.30pm UK time. To find the start time in your time zone, visit TimeAndDate. Got a question about booking? E-mail Rachel Bellerby. 

Please note this presentation will include images of archaeological human remains.

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Speaker details

Dr Shirley Curtis-Summers is an assistant professor in archaeological and forensic sciences, and MSc Human Osteology and Palaeopathology programme director at the University of Bradford. Her research focuses on using stable isotope and osteological methods to reconstruct aspects of diet, disease, and trauma on individuals from medieval and early modern Britain. Shirley has a particular interest in medieval and early modern Scotland, focusing on interpersonal violence, palaeodiet, and maternal-child health. Shirley has worked on skeletal assemblages from important archaeological sites in Scotland including the Pictish monastery at Portmahomack, and the medieval Cathedral Priory at Whithorn for which she acts as lead bioarchaeologist on the Cold Case Whithorn project. Shirley has contributed to the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF) and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.