What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A young man around 21 to 35 years of age and 163 cm tall (5 feet 4 inches). Plaque and thinning of the enamel (enamel defects, or hypoplasia) were seen on the teeth and there are chips taken out of the surface of the lower right 1st molar tooth. On the elbow joint there is a large circular lesion of 17 mm by 14 mm with rough edges and small pits in the bone (osteochondritis dissecans). This appears to have been healing or had even healed at by the time of death. A squatting facet is present on the right shin bone (tibia), identified by the presence of a small extension to the joint surface at the bottom of the bone.
Interpretation of the evidence
In Anglo-Saxon Britain, it is likely that if a man survived childhood, he could expect to live a fairly long life, at least into middle-age, provided he maintained good health and was not killed in battle. This man was well below average height, which could be due to the genes he inherited, or poor childhood health and nutrition. This and his relatively young death age might indicate that he was not in good general health. Osteochondritis dissecans today usually affects young boys/teenagers in sport (injury to the joint). The cartilage covering the joint (a ‘padding’ for the bones) and the underlying bone on the elbow joint has been affected. The blood supply to the joint is compromised and this leads to death of the bone and the cartilage that protects it. This condition could have caused swelling and pain and restricted movement, and later in life this can lead to osteoarthritis. In spite of healing, this could have affected the normal use of that joint. In common with many of the people buried at the Bowl Hole, dental hygiene appears to have been poor for this young man, and the chips on his lower right molar could be related to an activity he did. His enamel hypoplasia illustrates that in childhood he had a deficient diet or disease. The squatting facet suggests squatting for long periods of time and this might have been related to specific activities he was involved in, such as in farming.
Earl or shire officer. From Ealdor; elder from eald; old.