Forensic facial reconstruction and state-of-the-art 3D virtual sculpture methods were used to recreate the face of an accused witch.
If you haven’t had enough of spooky Halloween stories, the terrible dilemma of accused and tortured “witch” Lilias Adie may push you over the edge. The woman has been brought back to life with the help of 3D virtual sculpture technology.
Adie died in 1704. She was a Scottish woman who was persecuted for witchcraft. However, 300 years later, forensic scientists have been able to reconstruct her face and give us a glimpse of what she looked like.
Adie “confessed” to being a witch and having sex with the devil. For her crimes, she was to be burned, however, she died in prison before this could happen. Her body was buried on the Fife coast in Scotland, under a large stone.
However, in the 19th century, antiquarians exhumed Adie’s remains. As a result, her skull was given to St Andrews University Museum. Creepily, the skull went missing in the 20th century.
But, before Adie’s skull disappeared, it was photographed. Meaning, it was possible to recreate her features. Historian Louise Yeoman for BBC Radio Scotland’s Time Travels wanted to know whether it was possible to recreate Adie’s face using only these photographs.
Using 3D Virtual Technology to Uncover a Witch… or a Helpless Victim
Forensic artist Dr. Christopher Rynn from Dundee University’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification brought Adie’s face to our screens. To do this, he used forensic facial reconstruction and state-of-the-art 3D virtual sculpture methods.
“There was nothing in Lilias’ story that suggested to me that nowadays she would be considered as anything other than a victim of horrible circumstances. So I saw no reason to pull the face into an unpleasant or mean expression and she ended up having quite a kind face, quite naturally,” explains Rynn.
In fact, it is believed she was tortured in prison for the names of others. But, Adie may have saved lives by coming up with inventive ways to not name any other suspected women. Adie would invent reasons for being unable to give names or would only name women who were already known.
The torture resulted in Adie taking her own life. Suspected witches were not usually buried as they were burned at the stake. So, Adie’s face is a rare sighting.
Presenter Susan Morrison said: “It was a truly eerie moment when the face of Lilias suddenly appeared… Here was the face of a woman you could have a chat with, though knowing her story it was a wee bit difficult to look her in the eye.”