Mysterious Skeleton Discovered Under Scottish School Playground

A mysterious skeleton were uncovered by council workers during survey work for an extension at Victoria Primary School in Edinburgh last year. Workers expected to find remains of the original harbour and shipbuilding but instead uncovered human bones. Archaeologists have since studied the bones and initially thought they were Bronze Age because they were in such poor condition and found next to 4,000-year-old shards of pottery. But during carbon dating they were found to be from the 16th to 17th centuries. The skeleton is believed to belong to a man in his fifties - who was probably a criminal.

Six hundred years ago Newhaven dockyard was home to a gibbet - commonly used to execute witches and pirates. Experts think the man could have been killed in the device for criminal behaviour or piracy, before his body was dumped in nearby wasteland.

Founded in the 1840s, Victoria Primary School is the oldest working elementary school in Edinburgh and is housed in a historic building in the neighborhood of Newhaven which was once a thriving fishing village with a harbour on the Firth of Forth.

At that time, there was a gibbet on the Newhaven dockyards where pirates and others convicted of capital crimes would be hung for weeks until their bodies rotted away. Pirates were particularly popular candidates for the Newhaven gibbet because hanging their decaying bodies in plain view of the ships in the harbour was meant to be a deterrent to any other would-be scurvy dogs. Whatever was left of the body would eventually be taken down and buried wherever. The Victoria Primary School skeleton was buried in a shallow grave close to the shore, not in one of three graveyards in the area.


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