What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A woman of around 25 to 35 years of age and 163 cm tall (5 feet 4 inches). Tooth decay and a lot of dental plaque are present on the teeth, with some enamel thinning (enamel defects, or hypoplasia). The 4th lower lumbar vertebra has degeneration. One of the bones of the right hand has a healed fracture. The pelvis has a developmental defect. Squatting facets are seen on the joints at the ends of the shin bones (tibias), identified by the presence of small extensions to the joint surfaces at the bottom of the bones.
Interpretation of the evidence
In Anglo-Saxon Britain, if a woman survived childhood, she could be expected to live into middle-age, provided she maintained good health and did not die during pregnancy or childbirth. This woman was above average height for this period and this indicates that she was well-nourished and had been in good general health. However, we should remember that humans are very good at adapting to challenging times! Her teeth are in better condition than some of the other people buried at the Bowl Hole, but they still revealed lots of plaque and enamel thinning, and tooth decay (linked to sugar in the diet). The enamel hypoplasia illustrates that in childhood she had a deficient diet or disease. Had she lived longer, she would likely have developed further dental problems. The developmental defect in her pelvis would have likely caused arthritis and low back pain, which could have led to her mobility being compromised. The defect might have been the cause of her lumber osteoarthritis. The healed fracture in her right hand might indicate a past fall. This woman died relatively young. There is no evidence to indicate the cause of death, but many Anglo-Saxon women probably died from complications during pregnancy or childbirth, often dying with the child, or shortly afterwards from childbed fever (postpartum infection).
Window. Literally “Eye-aperture“.