New twist in search for body of clan chief
The 270-year-old mystery over the final resting place of a clan chief who was executed for his role in the 1745 Jacobite Uprising has taken a new twist - in London.
Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat - also known as the Old Fox - was beheaded in April 1747 with a long-held theory that supporters managed to smuggle his remains out of the UK capital and take them back to the Highlands.
Last year, pieces of skeleton were exhumed from an unmarked coffin in the family crypt at Wardlaw Mausoleum at Kirkhill, near Inverness, to establish once and for all whether the Old Fox came home.
But the bones turned out to be those of a headless young woman - with answers over the final fate of the clan chief as elusive as ever.
The search for the Old Fox has now moved to the chapel at the Tower of London where official records show that Lord Lovat was buried.
But now it has emerged the remains have since been moved - and are now likely held in one of two caskets that are concealed behind a thick stone wall and contain hundreds of random bones.
It had been hoped that forensic anthropologist Professor Dame Sue Black could have worked to determine if the clan chief did actually remain at the chapel.
But Erik Lundberg, custodian of Wardlaw Mausoleum, who visited the Tower of London this week, said that was now unlikely given the sheer volume of remains that were held together.
Mr Lundberg, who travelled to London with author Sarah Fraser, who is married to a descendant of Lord Lovat, said: “The indication is that there are the remains of numerous persons in each box.
“They are not going to let me knock down a wall just to satisfy my curiosity. I would have to have some pretty strong evidence that Lord Lovat was in there.
“I need to do some further research to see what can be found but I think for the moment we have pushed this avenue to the limit.
“It could be the case that Lord Lovat did come back to Wardlaw and was put in an unmarked grave but we have never been able to prove that without digging up the whole graveyard.”
Asked whether the mission to find the Old Fox was now complete, Mr Lundberg said: “It is never done. What we need to do now is find out whatever additional information there is about the bones in the chapel.”