What this skeleton told us: Evidence
Adult woman. Some plaque is present on the teeth. Squatting facets are present on the shin bones (tibias), identified by the presence of small extensions to the joint surfaces at the bottom of the bones.
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. However, we should remember that humans are very good at adapting to challenging times! This woman was above average height for the period, indicating that she was well-nourished and had been in good general health. Her teeth are in better condition than some of the other Bowl Hole skeletons, but still have plaque, indicating poor dental hygiene. The squatting facets suggest squatting for long periods of time and this might have been related to specific activities she was involved in, such as in farming. The jaw bone of a newborn baby was recovered from her grave (neonate). The immediately adjacent grave contained the skeleton of a neonate of some 38 weeks gestation and the jaw bone is consistent with the age of the neonate, this makes it likely part of the same individual. It is likely that this is a mother buried adjacent to her stillborn infant. This woman was relatively old to be having a child. Double obstetric deaths (mother and child) were likely common, and many women died during pregnancy or childbirth, often dying with the child, or shortly afterwards from childbed fever (postpartum infection).