DEATH should be celebrated - as well as those who donate their bodies to science, the Wigtown Book Festival has been told.

Professor Dame Sue Black, the leading forensic anthropologist, told a packed audience at the annual book festival in Dumfries and Galloway that death should be celebrated as much as birth.

Professor Black's new book All That Remains is the work of someone who has spent her career linking identities to the dead.

In her event, she said: "We celebrate birth, when there is that lovely little baby.

"At the other end we ought to celebrate death – which means celebrating the life that has come in between."

She told the audience how much she valued the "gift" of bodies left to science.

Professor Black said she used to tell students before their first dissection that what they were about to experience was "a level of gift they would never receive again."

Black said: “It is the most incredible thing to do, to make this gift that allows young people to learn.”

Despite advances in computer technology she believes that, for students to learn human anatomy, there is no substitute for carrying out dissections of real human bodies.

This year’s Wigtown Book Festival, from 21 to 30 September, is celebrating its 20th birthday.

The line-up of guests includes fiction writers, poets, broadcasters, philosophers, countryside writers, historians and many more.

Guests include Clare Balding, Patrick Gale, Susan Calman, Louis de Bernières, comedian and radio presenter Robin Ince, historian Tom Devine, crime writer Ann Cleeves, actor, writer and comedian Arabella Weir, philosopher John Gray, mountain walker and writer Cameron McNeish and broadcaster and writer Sally Magnusson.

Historian Ted Cowan will discuss John Ross of Stranraer’s voyage to discover the Northwest Passage.

These include panel discussions offering writers’ perspectives on how Scotland has changed in the past two decades and what Europe will look like 20 years from now.

The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, attended the festival last week.

She named Sunset Song by Lewis Grassic Gibbon as her favourite novel, as told an audience about the books that have shaped her life.

She noted it was children's author Enid Blyton who first entranced her as a reader.

She said she remembered reading under a table at her own fifth birthday party.