Archaeologists have discovered caverns littered with bronze age children’s decapitated heads in the grounds of Prince Charles’s old school in remote Scotland.
The grim find was made in a remote part of the estate of Gordonstoun (near Inverness), whose former pupils also include five of the Queen’s children and grandchildren.
Experts say the cave appears to have been used for funeral rituals by the Pictish clans that were then controlling Scotland
Evidence also suggests the caverns, which have stone carvings of leaping salmon, broken spears and other symbols of the Celtic Pict tribe, may have been in constant use from as long ago as Neolithic times.
The Mail Online reports: The cave, looking out from sea cliffs over the Moray Firth, was apparently used in funeral rituals from 1100 BC to 900 BC by the Pictish clans ruling Scotland at the time.
Experts say the clans placed bodies in the cave to decompose so that bones could eventually be retrieved. They also say there are indications that it was later used for executions.
Ian Armit, professor of archaeology at Bradford University, said the cave seemed to have been used for elaborate funeral rites – including dismembering bodies and the ritual display of heads.
According to The Sunday Times science editor Jonathan Leake, Mr Armit told the British Science Festival: ‘Caves had a great symbolic significance for early humans as places on the margin.
‘They are on the edge of the land, they go from light to dark – all symbolising the transition from life to death. They were often used in funeral rites. Head displays are also common in prehistory.
‘It is a common feature of head hunting and ancestor veneration. In this cave, remains from the late Bronze Age, show evidence for dead children having their heads cut off for display in the entrance.’
Mr Armit added that land around the caves were inhabited by tribes of Picts, who were then in charge of most of Scotland. The cave is one of many found in the Gordonstoun grounds.