Monday, November 06, 2006

Reconstructing Peter Snow

The man pictured left is Peter Snow. No, not the one with the swingometer, but Fr Peter Snow a Catholic priest from the late sixteenth century. Originally from Ripon, Peter Snow was captured and tried for the crime of being a Roman Catholic. He was hung drawn and quartered on York knavesmire and his head was placed on a stake above Micklegate Bar as a warning to others. York was a city that always had a significant underground Catholic community, underground being the operative word with a number of secret passageways and tunnels often being used to hide priests and members of religious communities from the prying eyes of the Protestant authorities.
He was executed on the same day as another local Catholic called Ralph Grimston. Snow was in his early thirties, Grimston about 50. The heads were spirited away from the stakes by local Catholics who took them to Hazelwood Castle near Tadcaster for safe keeping. They were finally unearthed during renovations in the 19th century
Now they are about to be interred at Leeds RC Cathedral finally putting them to rest after over four centuries. Prior to their interment forensic experts from Dundee University have used computer software to reconstruct their faces. Using simulation software that utilises precise facial scans accurate pictures of what the men looked like have been created, hence the picture of Fr Snow.
I love these facial reconstruction things, brings you face to face with these characters from the past. What you get from that picture is the youth of the man and just how ordinary he looks. He wouldn't look out of place wandering around town today. BBC Yorkshire & Lincolnshire's Inside Out programme features the story of Snow and Grimston at 7.30pm tonight.

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