What are the horned skulls of Pennsylvania

The horned skulls

It's one of the oddest and most-repeated stories of Pennsylvania's weird lore. A group of archaeologists working near an Indian burial mound in Sayre find many gigantic skeletons, 7 feet tall on average. Incredibly, a few of these had horns sprouting from their foreheads.

A good story, but not quite the way it happened.

In 1916, Professor W.K. Moorehead of Phillips-Andover College led an excavation team to Spanish Hill. Spanish Hill is a Native American site located in the center of town in South Waverly, Bradford County. This hill was the site of a Susquehannock village known to explorer Samuel de Champlain as Carantouan.

Soon after the Moorehead Expedition, in 1921, Louise W. Murray wrote an article about old Carantouan for American Anthropologist ("Aboriginal Sites In and Near 'Teaoga', now Athens, Pennsylvania"). Murray was a witness to the discovery of the horned skulls. In her words:
While the writer was present, one of the men in working a grave exclaimed, "There are horns over his head!" [Professor A.B.] Skinner said that indicated chieftainship. Later this was found to be a bundle burial, completely covered with antlers of Virginia deer. A passing visitor, however, heard the exclamation and attempted to verify it by interrogating a fun-loving Maine workman, and the story grew and was printed from coast to coast that one or more skulls had been found with horns growing from its forehead!
It is almost incredible to me that the story of the horned skulls has been repeated and retold for more than 90 years after the truth of the matter was known.

It is a fact, however, that many skeletons of Susquehannocks of unusual size have been found. Some were, indeed, over six and even seven feet tall. So perhaps at least the skeletons' stature was not exaggerated.