Pitt-Rivers museum trepanned skulls

Lyra Silvertongue examines the trepanned skulls at the Pitt-Rivers Museum.

Trepanning was a thousands-year-old process in which a hole was drilled into the skull of a living human. Tartars and Skraelings were said to practice trepanning.[1]

In the Tunguska Campaign, Lee Scoresby captured five Tartars alive and three had holes in their skulls. He told Lyra Silvertongue that it was a great privilege among Tartars. The process was believed to let the gods talk to those with holes in their heads.[2]

It was once believed by scholars at Jordan College that a trepanned skull found by Lord Asriel belonged to Stanislaus Grumman.



  1. Northern Lights, Chapter 2
  2. Northern Lights, Chapter 13
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