What this skeleton told us: Evidence
A middle-aged woman and 168 cm tall (5 feet 6 inches). Plaque and some enamel thinning (enamel defects, or hypoplasia) is present on the teeth, the front teeth are worn more than the others, and there are notches in her upper canine teeth. The bones of this woman are very light with a thin cortex (outer layer of bone), which may be due to the unfavourable soil conditions, or possibly an indication of osteoporosis (loss of bone mass often in older women). However, the vertebrae are too fragmentary to identify any other osteoporotic changes.
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 of above-average height for the period, and this and her age at death indicate that she was well-nourished and in good general health. Her teeth are in better condition than some of the other people who were buried at the Bowl Hole, but her enamel hypoplasia illustrates that in childhood she had a deficient diet or disease. The notches in her canine teeth indicate the repeated holding of something between her teeth perhaps related to an activity such as making baskets.
Undoubtedly, certain. From twēode doubtful.