A study of nonspecific skeletal health indicators in two nonadult populations from western Britain

  • Bernadette Manifold Bernie Department of Archaeology, School of Human and Environmental Sciences, University of Reading, Reading, Berkshire, RG6 6AB


Skeletal health indicators are often employed to measure how past populations adapted to their physical environment. The skeletons of children provide a measure of population fitness, as the ability of a community to keep their younger inhabitants alive and in general good health attest their ability to adapt to their environment. In this study, skeletal remains of non-adults from foetal to 17 years of age (n=300) from two cemetery populations in western Britain, namely the early medieval site of Llandough in south Wales (n=204) and the multi-period site of St Oswald’s Priory in Gloucester (n=96), were assessed. Non-specific indicators of physiological stress (cribra orbitalia, porotic hyperosprotosis, dental hypoplasia) and non-specific infections (periosteal new bone formation and endocranial lesions) are compared. Results suggest that the children from the English site enjoyed better health than their counterparts in Wales, where there was an increase in physiological stress during childhood.


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