What this skeleton told us: Evidence
An older man and 173 cm tall (5 feet 8 inches). There was decay of the roots of some teeth as well as plaque and infected roots of the upper right first molar tooth. Some tooth loss had also occurred during life. Chips out of the dental enamel are also present on a number of teeth. There is evidence of infection on the thigh bone (femur) and on the bones of the right middle and 4th fingers, and in both cases show that the infection was active at the time of death.
Interpretation of the evidence
In Anglo-Saxon Britain, it is likely that if a man survived childhood, he could expect to live a fairly long life, at least into middle-age, provided he maintained good health and was not killed in battle. This man was a little above average height for the period, and died at a relatively advanced age, indicating that he was well-nourished and in very good general health. However, we should remember that humans are very good at adapting to challenging times! In common with many of the people buried at the Bowl Hole, dental hygiene appears to have been poor for this man. He had lost teeth during life, likely had bad breath, and may have had toothache from the infected roots. Tooth decay indicates sugar in his diet. The chips on his teeth indicate that he might have habitually used them as tools, which might indicate a particular activity related to occupation. When this man died he had osteomyelitis, a painful bone infection. He likely experienced pain and heat, and the arts affected would have been swollen, and red. If left untreated, an infection such as this can become chronic and can lead to death of the bone tissue. It is unknown whether this older Anglo-Saxon man died with or from this disease is not known.
Shield wall. Literally “war-hedge”.