What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A young adolescent/adult woman aged between 15 and 24 years and 167 cm tall (5 feet 6 inches). Two of the vertebrae of the lower back (lumbar) are fused, possibly due to a compression fracture.
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 young woman is above average height for the period, indicating she was well-nourished and had been in good general health. Compression fractures can indicate underlying osteoporosis, often a disease that affects older women. However, this is largely contraindicated by her young age, so may have been the result of an accidental injury. She could have experienced acute pain in her back. There is no evidence in her skeleton to indicate why she died at a relatively young age, but in Anglo-Saxon Britain many women likely died during pregnancy or childbirth, often dying with the child, or shortly afterwards from childbed fever (postpartum infection).