Rat Island

Facial depiction of one of Rat Island's men

Face Lab produced a 3D facial depiction of a 19th Century adult male from skeletal remains recovered during rescue excavations on Rat Island, Gosport near Portsmouth.

“The results was striking. We are now able to look upon the face of a man who lived and died by the Naval base some 200 years ago. Perhaps not the face of Abel Magwitch, and perhaps not even someone who had committed any crime at all. But someone whose hones still can tell a story.” - Richard Osgood, Senior Archaeologist, the MOD Magazine: SANCTURY, No.47, 2018.

Exercise MAGWITCH - Rat Island, is one of the projects in the Operation Nightingale programme. In 2014, human skeleton of those who died on the 18th and 19th century prison ships were recovered from burrow ('Rat') Island in Portsmouth. This project won the prestigious Ministry of Defence Sanctuary Award for best Heritage Project and the coveted Silver Otter Award.

This project involved collaborative work between Breaking Ground Heritage, Combat Stress, the Royal Military Police and 17 Port and Maritime Regiment. Participants included Wounded, Injured and Sick (IWS) service personnel, veterans on Operation Nightingale, and metal detecting volunteers from Hampshire. In addition, forensics experts, professional archaeologists, osteologists and historians provided their expertise.

The project was also featured on BBC's 'Digging for Britain'.