Thursday, 13 May 2010


  History Cold Case on BBC2 is a gem of a programme. It shows Professor Sue Black and her team of forensic experts from Dundee University uncovering the secrets from the skeletons and mummified remains from history. It's Time Team meets Silent Witness and it's fascinating.

Tonight, the team applied their expertise on a mummified child dating from the early 19th century. The body had been used for anatomical displays and included wax-filled arteries and blood vessels to preserve a visual effect for medical students. Bones and cells were tested for DNA and dietary intake to help detect whether the child was from the poor workhouses as was usual for the day. 

Sadly, after much testing and research, it was found that big money could be made in grave robbing and latterly even more money could be made in freshly murdered corpses and in this case, the little boy was likely to have been murdered. A likely scenario was that the boy was picked up, taken to a pub and plied with drink before being taken to a well to be drowned. The body would be taken directly to St Bartholomews ready for following morning's dissections.  

 Yes, it's macabre yet fascinating at the same time. The final part of the programme when a scientist brings the corpse's face to life using CGI technology taken from skull measurements is stunning. Seeing the little boy's face come to life after 200 years was brilliant and sad in equal measures. The final word went to Prof Sue Black who claimed that science was all very well yet bodies used in anatomy displays was bordering on immoral and therefore the little body would be buried with the dignity he deserved. I think that's the right thing to do....


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