Face of infamous Scots pirate is revealed

The face of Alexander Tardy, the infamous pirate and poisoner of the early 1800s. Picture: Dundee.ac.uk/Amy Thornton

The face of Alexander Tardy, the infamous pirate and poisoner of the early 1800s. Picture: Dundee.ac.uk/Amy Thornton

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THE face of a notorious pirate and poisoner operating in the early 1800s, has been unveiled by forensic art.

Alexander Tardy carried out numerous acts of piracy and poisoning and is best known for his last acts aboard the brig Crawford in 1827.

He and fellow pirates boarded the ship in Cuba before poisoning the captain and crew. When it became clear he was set to be captured, Tardy retreated to the captain’s cabin and slit his own throat.

A cast of Tardy’s skull is held in the University of Edinburgh~s Anatomical Museum.

The Museum contacted Dundee University about a facial reconstruction and full body cast of Tardy so forensic art student Amy Thornton took it on as her Masters project.

Amy, 26, from Huddersfield, said: “The skull was laser scanned and the size of the jawbone, which was missing, was estimated from the evidence available.

“We then did a 3-D print of the skull and from there I fleshed out the detail to the point where I have been able to produce a realistic and full-size model of Tardy. There was quite a bit of detail available as to how he looked and what his personality was like, a bit of a dark-eyed scoundrel to say the least.

“For the exhibition I have him dressed in disguise as a doctor, which was a ruse he employed to ensure boarding to ships.”

While the public can now view the face of the vicious killer, Amy confessed she is struggling to get “Tardy the Pirate”, who also worked as a dentist, out of her mind.

She said: “I’ve come to know him quite well after working on this project for the last year and he’s been in my living room for the past three months so I’ve seen way too much of him.

“I’ve started thinking I’m seeing him in the street so I’m more than happy to have finished with him.”

The University of Dundee was the first in the world to offer courses in forensic and medical art in 2007 in a collaboration between the Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification and Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design.

Since then the work of the Dundee academics has gained worldwide attention for a range of projects, including the facial reconstruction of figures such as Richard III, Johann Sebastian Bach and Robert Burns.

The university’s expertise has also been deployed in criminal cases around the world, utilising forensic art techniques to aid identification of both suspects and victims that have been crucial in securing convictions or tracing missing persons.

The University offers Masters courses in Forensic Art & Facial Identification and Medical Art.

Amy’s exhibition can be seen at Masters Show 2015, which opens with a preview on Friday August 21st and runs until Saturday August 29th in Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, part of the University of Dundee.

The Masters Show celebrations will begin with a special, invite-only Preview Evening on Friday, 21st August. It will remain open until Saturday, 29th August. The exhibition is open from 10am-8pm on weekdays and from 10am-4pm at weekends. For more information see dundee.ac.uk/mastersshow.

The model of Tardy is also set to go on future display at the Anatomical Museum at Edinburgh.

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