What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A young adult man around 18 to 24 years of age. This is a quite well preserved skeleton but has missing bones, such as the skull and of the lower legs (these were missing due to disturbance of a nearby grave). Height is estimated as 159 cm (5 feet 2 inches). There is a healed break (fracture) of the 5th rib but also extensive sharp force injury relating to the time of death (perimortem). This includes a cut to the head of the left upper arm bone (humerus), cuts down the rib cage on the left side, and a clear and obvious cut mark ton the left side of the pelvis in the area of the hip and top of the thigh bone (femur). This long list of injuries is consistent with a single blow to the left side of the body from somebody using a very sharp weapon. The absence of the lower bones of the forearm and the of the hand on this side may be the result of the man trying to defend himself that resulted in the severing of his lower arm and hand from the rest of his arm. In addition, there is some indication of fractures to the left third and seventh ribs, and a small diamond-shaped puncture wound to the shaft of the right fifth rib that may also have been inflicted around the time of death. Clearly this young man died as a result of a violent and perhaps sustained professional attack from someone with a formidable sharp weapon, such as a sword. The absence of the skull leaves the potential idea that he might have been decapitated, but no clear evidence for this is present on the bones of the neck.
Interpretation of the evidence
This young man was below average height for this period. The cause of death is clear – a single sword/weapon blow to the left side of his body – cutting through the shoulder, ribs, and pelvis, which would have also caused widespread soft tissue injury and probably loss of blood. Weapon trauma is rarely seen in the skeletons from the Bowl Hole – it is thought that conflict in the Anglo-Saxon period typically occurred away from settlements towards territory edges. The lack of a skull (and teeth) means that there are no isotope data for this skeleton.
The Seven: The Wounded Warrior
This young man had probably been training as a warrior since he was a boy. He was fatally wounded, aged just 20, by a blow with an axe that cut him from shoulder to pelvis.
To cut off, strike down, destroy.