What this skeleton told us: Evidence
An older woman and 163 cm tall (5 feet 4 inches). Plaque is present on her teeth and there are small notches in her incisor teeth. Some degeneration of the vertebrae of her neck is present, and there are also squatting facets seen at the ends of both shin bones (tibias), identified by the presence of small extensions to the joint surface.
Interpretation of the evidence
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 this period and died at a relatively advanced age, indicating that she was well-nourished and in good general health. Her teeth are in better condition than some of the other people buried at the Bowl Hole, but she still had dental plaque, indicating poor dental hygiene. The notches in her incisor teeth indicate the repeated holding of something between her teeth perhaps related to an activity like making baskets. The degeneration of her neck vertebrae is a sign of osteoarthritis that could be related to work but also her age (we get more arthritis as we age). 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.
Leader, director or King.