The mystery of the Six-Headed Leader's grave: scientists reveal the secret of the burial by DNA

DNA Scientists Reveal the Secret of the Six-Headed Leader's Tomb

In the Scottish Highlands of Easter Ross, the archaeologists made an amazing find. They found a medieval burial that they conditionally called the tomb of the Six-Headed Leader. Examining the remains of buried people, the scientists concluded that most of them belong to close people, that are relatives. That is why the find received such an original name. Thanks to the method of the DNA analysis, the researchers were able to begin to uncover the secrets of an ancient burial, and a recent study has shown that members of the same large family may be in the grave, it is evidenced by their DNA.

It was found near the altar of the former parish church in the village of Portmakhomak. It is a small fishing village. Initially, the researchers suggested that the burial could be a so-called mass grave. But in fact it turned out that this is a related burial.


The DNA analysis found that the two men were buried at different times. One of them was buried at the end of the 13th century, and the second was buried at the beginning of the 15th century. They may have been cousins, uncles or nephews. Further it was possible to find out that three of the four skulls could belong to the same family, they could be grandfather, father and mother of the second man. The same grave contained the remains of another man, probably the son of the second man.

The skull of the fourth buried person dates back to the 8-10th century. And before he ended up in this burial place, he was buried in the nearby monastery cemetery. The archaeologists called the remains strange, and later they were able to establish that this person was a Pictish monk, the body of that was removed from the monastery cemetery and the remains were placed with his family in the same burial.

The most amazing thing about the whole find is that the entire burial was formed exclusively from skulls. For Scotland, it is outrageous, especially for such ancient periods of time. An archaeologist Cecily Spall believes that this burial may symbolize a place of worship.


Such examples were in the Neolithic and Bronze Age, when the remains of the bodies of the deceased were used for worship. In the medieval period, the unification of deceased relatives into a single grave, and even in this form, is a strange act even by modern standards.

Originally published on Live Science.