June 5, 2014 9.39 am This story is over 90 months old

Story of Lincoln Castle saxon skeletons revealed

Digging up history: Tests have revealed a fascinating look into the story of the 10 skeletons unearthed from the grounds at Lincoln Castle.

Tests have revealed a fascinating look into the story of the 10 skeletons unearthed from the grounds at Lincoln Castle.

The remains discovered during the Lincoln Castle Revealed restoration last year were found just three metres below ground level in what appeared to be a Saxon church.

The first results of tests supported by Lincolnshire County Council highlighted the ages and genders of the remains and even evidence of medical history.

Mary Powell, Lincoln Castle Revealed Programme Manager, said: “There are four males and three females within an 18-45 age range, two children aged 10-14 and one child aged 2-6.

“Three of the adults had an additional lumbar vertebra, a genetic anomaly that affects around 10% of today’s adult population.

“We can’t say as yet whether there is a familial link between these three individuals but the fact that three out of the seven adults have this anomaly is interesting.

“Most intriguingly, one of the older children has evidence of a blade wound close to the time of death.

“They seemed to have led active and vulnerable lives with most adults having various forms of joint disease with some having advanced osteoarthritis.

Photo: LCC

Photo: LCC

“There is also evidence of nutritional stresses such as scurvy.

“The young Saxon in the sarcophagus had suffered from rickets in early life. He also had a severe infection of the legs, possibly due to a metabolic or infectious disease.

“To date it can’t be determined whether this infection was the cause of death, but it was still prevalent when he died.

“The limestone sarcophagus is now with a stone conservator and is drying out nicely. The leather from his boots has also been sent for analysis. Apparently they were made of a single piece of leather held to the feet with thongs.

“DNA analysis is the next stage and will add to our current profile of these individuals by reconstructing their diet, identifying where they came from and placing them in the wider context of how life was lived in Saxon Lincoln.

“We’re also planning facial reconstructions using the skeletons that are in the best condition – fascinating doesn’t begin to cover it.”

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