Perth Museum has opened the door to its latest exhibition, “Stories for Faces,” which presents a fascinating journey into the past through the digital facial reconstruction of individuals who lived in the region over the last two millennia.

This unique showcase, part of the new Perth Museum project, commenced on the 30th of March, 2024, aligning with the museum’s opening, and offers a window into the lives of people from different eras, enabling us to see history through a more personal lens.

The inaugural display features the facial reconstruction of a Bronze Age woman discovered at Lochlands Farm near Rattray, Perthshire. The excavation, which occurred in 1962, revealed a cist burial chamber containing a skeleton in a crouched position. The woman, identified as being in her 40s at the time of death and measuring just over 5 feet tall, displayed signs of osteoarthritis and Schmorl’s nodes, indicative of spine stress. Interestingly, her facial bones on the lower left side were cut away, leading to speculation about the cause of death, which remains a subject of ongoing research.

The exhibition also presents a Pictish man from Bridge of Tilt, Blair Atholl, Perthshire, whose skeletal remains date back to the 5/6th century. His life, marked by years of agricultural labour, reflects the cultural and communal interconnections in Scotland during the first millennium AD. Analysis shows that he lived a life deeply intertwined with the land, dining primarily on farmed produce, pork, and occasionally freshwater fish.

Lastly, the exhibition uncovers the story of a young adult male, aged 18-25, found in Perth. His skeleton was discovered during early 2000s excavations, and his burial suggests a violent end. The presence of two silver coins with the skeleton hints at a burial dating back to the late 14th century, although radiocarbon dating suggests an earlier time frame. His story is a grim reminder of the brutality of past lives and the mysteries that accompany unmarked graves.

Curator Mark Hall expressed his hope that visitors would find engagement and connection with the digital facial reconstructions, which serve as avatars from the past, illuminating the realities of ancient lives. The museum team, including Chris Rynn and Hayley Fisher, and scholars from Aberdeen University, like Marc Oxenham, Rebecca Crozier, Jenna Dittmar, and Elizabeth Ashcroft, collaborated to bring these stories to life, demonstrating the immense privilege and responsibility of working with physical remnants of history.

“Stories for Faces” offers wonderful insights into the lives of individuals who have shaped Scottish history. As the exhibition unfolds at the Perth Museum, visitors are encouraged to partake in this opportunity to come face-to-face with history. The museum, located at St John’s Place, Perth, PH1 5SZ, is open to all who wish to delve into Scotland’s past and uncover the stories etched in bone and earth.