What this skeleton told us: Evidence
An 18 month to 2 year old child. Poorly preserved with only 20% of the skull surviving. A mix of milk and adult teeth are present. There appears to be a possible trepanation (surgical ‘hole in the head’), from the deliberate cutting a 21.6mm by 18.2mm oval hole into the right side of the skull. However, it is also possible that this has resulted from damage to the skull after death.
Child mortality was likely high in Anglo-Saxon Britain. Evidence of trepanation has been found in skulls across the world from prehistory to more recent times (post-medieval), including in Britain. Different methods were used (scraping, gouging, or drilling the skull). In Anglo-Saxon Britain the most common method was scraping the bone to reveal a hole and in most cases there is evidence of healing. This procedure was carried out to treat a head injury, or conditions such as epilepsy, but there is no evidence in this child’s skeleton to indicate a medical condition for which the trepanation might have been performed. The absence of post-operative healing of the skull indicates that this child did not survive the trepanation.
Love. Also Luf-að; loves.