The Wardlaw Mausoleum in Kirkhill, Scotland, where the body of Simon Fraser is said to be located. (Photo: Courtesy of the Wardlaw Mausoleum via Wikimedia Commons)

A grisly investigation has begun to establish whether a headless skeleton in a Highland mausoleum is that of a notorious 18th century clan chief.

Simon Fraser, the 11th Lord Lovat, a Jacobite sympathiser who backed Bonnie Prince Charlie, was executed in London in 1747.

His body was said to have remained in the Tower of London but there are rival claims it was returned to Scotland and laid to rest in a lead casket inside a mausoleum at Kirkhill near Inverness.

The trust that looks after the family cemetery now hopes forensic science will help prove the remains are those of the chief.

Dame Sue Black, the Dundee University-based forensic scientist, has begun examining the skeleton in a bid to confirm it is male, of the right dimensions and age, and that it bears signs of decapitation.

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