Medieval skeletons reveal an ancient and unusual form of bone disease that caused people to die as young as 35 Uncovered at Nottingham, England
According to a new archeological study, skeletons excavated from Norton Priory in England contain a rare and unusually aggressive form of bone disease similar to the disease of Paget.
Paget’s bone disease is a chronic disorder that gradually replaces old bone tissue with new bone tissue. The new replacement tissue, however, is weak, making some bones easy to fracture, break, and damage.
The earliest reports of Paget’s disease were found in ancient Roman remains, but little is known about the history, origin, and evolution of the disease.
Researchers from the University of Nottingham and a team of collaborators analyzed excavated remains from the priory dating back to the Medieval period. Six out of the 130 skeletons excavated contained a strange form of Paget’s.
As much as 75 percent of the skeletons of some individuals were affected by the disease.
The researchers also calculated an age of death as low as 35 for some of the individuals directly due to the disease.“We identify an ancient and atypical form of Paget’s disease of bone (PDB) in a collection of medieval skeletons exhibiting unusually extensive pathological changes, high disease prevalence, and low age-at-death estimations,” the researchers wrote in their study, which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The team sequenced DNA from the preserved remains and used RNA and protein analysis to identify an ancient protein similar to one called p62, which plays a fundamental role in Paget’s disease today.“
Detection of ancient p62 as one of the few noncollagenous proteins in skeletal samples (bones and teeth) based on a combination of peptide sequencing and Western blotting is strongly indicative of a diagnosis of PDB…,” the researchers wrote.
Paget’s disease is believed to have originated in Western Europe and the UK.
Anglo-Saxon Pendant Found in England Declared To Be Treasure
An Anglo-Saxon gold pendant, found near a site where a similar item worth £145,000 was dug up, probably belonged to a woman of “high social status”.
The Winfarthing Pendant was found in 2014 near Diss in Norfolk. The latest pendant, with a central cross motif, was found in 2017 and it has been declared treasure.
Julie Shoemark, Norfolk’s finds liaison officer, said it made a “valuable contribution to our understanding of Saxon society”.
In 2014, a student found Anglo-Saxon jewellery, including a pendant, at Winfarthing, later valued by the government’s Portable Antiquities Scheme at £145,000.’
Immense’ social change
The more recently discovered pendant, which features gold bead work and measures 17mm (0.67in) by 13mm (0.5in), is believed to date from the late-6th Century to the mid-7th.
Ms Shoemark, from Norfolk County Council’s archaeology department, said: “Like the Winfarthing assemblage, this piece most likely belonged to a high-status lady.”
It dates to an important turning point in Saxon history during the first flowering of Christianity [in England] and is of similar date to the jewellery assemblage from the now famous and nearby Winfarthing burial.”
Male graves of this period appear to be entirely lacking in elaborate jewellery.”
This latest pendant makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of Saxon society, religion and the position of women during a period of immense social and cultural change.”
It was declared treasure at an inquest held by the Norfolk Coroner’s Office. This means ownership now lies with the Crown. It will now be valued by the Portable Antiquities Scheme.
Similar items had been found in collections left in Anglo-Saxon graves across the east of England and Kent.
The Winfarthing Pendant, discovered by student-turned-archaeologist Tom Lucking, has recently been on show at The British Library in London. Treasure experts described it as having “national significance” shortly after it was discovered.
Gold Hat Pin Found in Field Believed to be from Glamorous Warrior King Edward IV
In a field in Lincolnshire, England, a metal detector found a gold hat pin fashioned in the 15th century. It is believed that the jewel belonged to Edward IV, a king who was known in the Wars of the Roses for both his good looks and his dramatic victories.
The estimated value of the ring is as high as $ 18,000. Lisa Grace, a 42-year-old amateur detector, discovered the pristine medieval jewel.
“It is believed the pin is linked to royalty as Edward IV and his circle wore strikingly similar pieces during his two reigns as King from 1460 until his end in 1483,” wrote the Daily Mail.
“The jewel is designed as a sun in splendor — the personal emblem of Edward IV.”The piece may have been lost in battle. Other clues to its royal ownership: At the center of the piece is a purple amethyst stone, another of Edward IV’s favorites.
The pin closely resembles a jewel depicted on Edward IV’s hat in a portrait preserved in The Museum Calvet in Avignon, France. Grace said she was stunned at her discovery, just a few inches below the surface.
“When I found it, the jewel wasn’t far under the ground at all as the field had recently been ploughed,” she said to the media. Specialists say they have been experiencing “early interest from both collectors and museums and are expecting offers between £10,000 and £15,000.”
An official from Duke’s Auctioneers said: “The jewel does bear a striking resemblance to the one in a well-known portrait of Edward IV from the Musee Calvet.” But he also said that it could have belonged to a courtier.
“The fact is we shall never know, but it clearly belonged to someone of high status in the upper echelons of medieval society.” Edward IV was not born the son of a king but was the oldest son of Richard, Duke of York, descended from Edward III.
Richard and his supporters came into conflict with Henry VI, the Lancaster ruler who was widely derided for his weak character and suffered from at least one complete mental breakdown.
Richard of York served as regent during Henry VI’s incapacity. He died when Edward was in his teens and Edward became the claimant of the throne as the Yorks attempted to assume leadership of England through defeating the Lancasters in battle. Edward IV was made a king of England on March 4, 1461.
Weeks after declaring himself king, he challenged the Lancasters in the Battle of Towton. It was one of the bloodiest battles in English history, with nearly 30,000 dead, and Edward won, even though the Lancaster army had more men. In battles, Edward IV was an inspiring and able general.
Edward was over six feet tall and considered very handsome. The Croyland Chronicler described Edward as “a person of most elegant appearance and remarkable beyond all others for the attractions of his person.” He was interested in creating a fashionable and glamorous court.
His chief supporters wanted him to make a dynastic marriage but he fell in love with a beautiful widow, Elizabeth Woodville, and made her queen. She was highly unpopular, and Edward lost his throne to a resurgent Lancaster force for a time. After more battles, he was made king again in 1471.
After this comeback, Edward IV ruled until his sudden demise from illness in 1483. He had become overweight and devoted to his mistresses. When he passed, his oldest son was only 12, and Richard III, Edward’s younger brother, usurped the throne. Edward’s two sons were both imprisoned in the Tower of London and disappeared from public view.
Edward IV’s oldest daughter, Elizabeth of York, married Henry VII, the Lancaster claimant who vanquished Richard III in the Battle of Bosworth. Their son, Henry VIII, resembled his grandfather, Edward IV, in his height and some say his character. The present queen, Elizabeth II, is directly descended from Edward IV.
Headless Vikings the “most exciting & disturbing” archaeological discoveries in Britain in recent years
50 beheaded young men found in a burial pit at Olympics building site were probably executed Vikings.
About 50 skeletons were found in an old quarry pit at Ridgeway Hill, in Dorset, during the construction of the Weymouth relief road.
All had been decapitated – their bodies were thrown into shallow graves with their heads piled up to one side.
The individuals are thought to have been executed at the graveside and stripped of their clothes, with defence wounds on their hands, arms and skulls and injuries to their necks and shoulders suggesting a bloodbath in which several blows were required to remove each head.
The Ridgeway Hill Viking burial pit at Ridgeway Hill near Weymouth, Dorset, was a mass grave of 54 skeletons and 51 heads of Scandinavian men executed some time between AD 910 and 1030.
The men are believed to have been Vikings executed by local Anglo-Saxons.
The dismembered skeletons were discovered by archaeologists, and their identity and approximate ages were later confirmed by forensic analyses.
Although the immediate circumstances of the deaths are unknown, the event occurred at a time of conflict between the native Anglo-Saxons and Viking invaders, and it has been suggested that the Vikings had been captured during an attempted raid into the Anglo-Saxon territory.
Archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology began excavating land along the route of the planned Weymouth Relief Road (A354 road) in advance of the £87 million projects, which is intended to improve access to Weymouth and the Isle of Portland.
The project had attracted significant controversy, as the road’s route passes through a legally protected Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is of historical and ecological importance.
The archaeological investigation was one of the largest carried out in Dorset for many years, covering an area of around 540,000 sq ft.
Archaeologists announced that they had discovered a burial pit on Ridgeway Hill containing what turned out to be 51 dismembered skeletons, with skulls, rib cages and leg bones arranged in separate piles.
The pit was in a disused Roman quarry, used by the killers for convenience rather than specially dug for the purpose.
It lay next to what was a main road and parish boundary in Anglo-Saxon times; such prominent locations were typically used for executions.
British Soldiers Find The Remains And Sword Of A Rich Saxon Warrior
Salisbury Plain is a large, open land area in Wiltshire, England covering approximately 300 square miles (775 square km).
In addition to being the British Army’s largest training ground, Stonehenge is also home to one of the UK’s most famous sites.
But Salisbury Plain also bears many other ancient sites, including Barrow Clump, which recently found the remains of ancient inhabitants.
About 3.5 miles from Amesbury, Barrow Clump is only one of what were once several barrows that made up what is called a bowl barrow.
It was built in the Bronze Age but was later re-used as an Anglo-Saxon cemetery in the 6th century. Barrow Clump is the only surviving barrow, the others having long since been ploughed over.
Recently, an archaeological dig was conducted in the area. What makes this dig particularly interesting is that is was done as a part of Operation Nightingale – an initiative by the military that uses archaeology to assist in the recovery of service personnel who were injured in recent conflicts such as Afghanistan.
Salisbury Plain is an important ecosystem, but also an incredibly significant historic site, and Wessex Archaeology has been working with the Defence Infrastructure Organization to protect it.
One of the major threats to the archaeological remains on the plain is not necessarily military exercises, however; it is burrowing animals, of which there are many, especially badgers.
This was the case at Barrow Clump, where the burrowing of these animals was bringing bones and grave items to the surface, and which would eventually lead to the destruction of the site altogether.
Wessex Archaeology was invited by the Defence Infrastructure Organization to oversee an excavation at the burial ground, the aim of which was to record and recover the Anglo-Saxon burials that were at risk, and investigate what Bronze Age burials were still there.
30 military personnel were involved in the dig, and 75 Anglo-Saxon graves were excavated – including that of an Anglo-Saxon warrior, found on the last day of excavation.
It was evident immediately that the remains were those of a warrior. He was found with a spear by his side, and a sword in his arms, which was actually still in one piece and included traces of the wood and leather scabbard.
His possessions included a belt buckle, knife, and tweezers, which were in a rather good condition despite having been underneath a military pathway. Also found with him were pattern-welded swords, which were indicative of the warrior once having a high status among his people.
Those who found him – participants in Operation Nightingale – were moved, as they felt they might have had some shared experiences.
According to Richard Osgood, senior archaeologist with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation, “It was a classic last day of the dig find – there was such a buzz across the site, the soldiers definitely had a sense of kinship.”The warrior was found by using a metal detector for a final sweep of the site and gave off an unusually strong signal.
Osgood has stated that the site was generally better preserved than the ploughed fields outside of the army area: “We found one grave directly below the track, and the skull, only five centimeters down, hadn’t even been cracked – so from a curatorial point of view that was very reassuring.”
Together with the warrior, the excavation uncovered many other Saxon burials, including men, situated around the edges of the site, with women and children in the center.
Grave goods were also recovered, including weaponry, jewelry, and a large amber bead, buried with a young girl.
One of the graves without any other items simply and poignantly contained the remains of a young boy, curled up as if sleeping.
Osgood believes those buried at the site came from a settlement in a nearby valley: “It’s that Saxon thing of looking up the hill and knowing your ancestors are up there on a site that was already ancient and special.”Operation Nightingale has been so successful that several of its veterans have retrained as professional archaeologists.
The finds from the dig have been taken by Wessex Archaeology for more study and conservation, and will eventually find homes in the Wiltshire Museum in nearby Devizes. The Badgers are, according to Osgoode, “happily back in residence in the barrow now.”