What this skeleton told us: Evidence
An older man and 166 cm tall (5 feet 5 inches). The jaws and teeth show evidence of tooth decay, plaque and gum disease as well as tooth loss during life. He also had osteoarthritis in the joints of the left upper arm (humerus) and right thigh bone (femur). There was an indication of soft tissue damage having been present to the femur, and this may have been related to a well-healed fracture. There were also well healed fractures to the right 2nd and third ribs, and squatting facets on 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, 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. Although this older man was below average height, he died at a relatively advanced age, indicating that he was well-nourished and in good general health. However, we should remember that humans are very good at adapting to challenging times! In common with many of the people buried at the Bowl Hole, dental hygiene appears to have been poor for this man. Tooth decay indicates sugar in his diet. Osteoarthritis is not a surprising condition given his age and might have resulted in swelling, pain and stiffness of the joints, especially after physical activity. Healed fractures suggest accidents over a life time, and the squatting facets suggest squatting for long periods of time, this might have been related to specific activities he was involved in, such as in farming.
Drinking companions. From bēor; beer.