Pre-Roman and Roman Winchester - Vol. 2

By Giles Clarke; J. L. MacDonald et al. | Go to book overview

17 HUMAN SKELETONS: PRELIMINARY REPORTS

THE skeletons found at Lankhills will be extensively discussed and analysed in Volume 9 of Winchester Studies, together with the skeletal material from the Old Minster and other excavations in the city. All that has been done here is to determine the age and sex of the individual skeletons and to examine in detail the seven decapitations.


i. GENERAL NOTE ON AGE AND SEX

by MARY HARMAN

A preliminary examination of the human skeletons was made to determine their age and sex.1 This work was done under conditions which were not always ideal. Skulls and post-cranial remains were looked at separately, sometimes in different places and on different occasions, and the information derived from them was then amalgamated. It was then not possible to do more than reach a decision concerning the age and sex of each individual. The age of the individual was assessed principally from the degree of epiphyseal fusion, the state of tooth eruption, and the amount of occlusal view. The criteria for suggesting the sex of the adult skeletons were features of the skull and pelvic girdle, but the size and ruggedness of the skeletons was also considered. A more leisurely examination of each skeleton may reduce the uncertainty concerning the age and sex of some individuals.2


ii. EVIDENCE FOR DECAPITATION (Plate XVII)

by ROBIN J. WATT

A preliminary examination of the cervical vertebrae from the seven excavated decapitations was followed by a microscopic investigation of the cases of suspected trauma. Attempts to duplicate the types of trauma found on the individuals described below were unsuccessful and resulted in powdering, flaking, or breaking of the bone.

The seven skeletons were all found with their skull and upper vertebrae located near the legs or the feet,3 thus indicating that these individuals had been decapitated at or after death (Fig. 50). No evidence of decapitation could be found, however, on any of the bones from Graves 120, 348, and 451, in Graves 120 and 348 probably because of poor bone preservation and the consequent incompleteness of the cervical column. Evidence for decapitation was found on the mandible from Grave 379, and on the cervical vertebrae of Graves 379, 427, 441, and 445.

Except for a cut on the under-surface of the mandible in Grave 379, all the observed trauma was localised to the third and fourth vertebrae. In the living, this would be in the region of the middle of the neck. More specifically, trauma on the third vertebrae was directed towards the inferior surface,

____________________
1
See Table 2, columns 12 and 13.
2
There are discrepancies between the results given in Table 2 and those obtained by Mr. R. Watt in a fuller examination of the skeletons; for example, Mr. Watt gives a greater age to many adults. In his description of the decapitated skeletons, Mr. Watt gives his own results, not those in Table 2. Some difference between individual workers is only to be expected where the range of possible variation is wide.
3
See above, pp. 142 and 192-3.

-342-

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Pre-Roman and Roman Winchester - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Author's Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • List of Figures xvii
  • List of Tables xxi
  • List of Abbreviations xxiii
  • Introduction li
  • Part I - The Excavation 1
  • 1 - Circumstances of Excavation 1
  • 2 - Archaeological Background 4
  • 3 - General Character of the Excavation 12
  • 4 - The Graves *
  • 5 - Other Features 96
  • Part II - Analysis 111
  • 1 - Introduction 111
  • 2 - Chronology 113
  • 3 - Age and Sex 123
  • 4 - Cremations 128
  • 5 - Inhumations: The Grave 131
  • 6 - Inhumations: The Grave-Furniture 145
  • 7 - Cemetery Organisation 183
  • Part III - The Finds 201
  • 1: Introduction 201
  • 2 - Coins 202
  • 3 - Pewter Vessels 206
  • 4 - Glass Vessels 209
  • 5 - Pottery Vessels 221
  • 6 - Animal Remains 239
  • 7 - Equipment 246
  • 8 - Cross-Bow Brooches 257
  • 9 - Belts and Belt-Fittings 264
  • 10 - Beads and Necklaces 292
  • 11 - Bracelets 301
  • 12 - Other Personal Ornaments 315
  • 13 - Hobnails and Footwear 322
  • 14 - Miscellaneous Objects 326
  • 15 - Textile Remains 329
  • 16 - Coffin-Nails, Coffin-Fittings, and Coffins 332
  • 17 - Human Skeletons: Preliminary Reports 342
  • 18 - Economic Conclusions 345
  • Part IV - Discussion 347
  • 1 - Late Romano-British Burial Practice 347
  • 2 - Foreign Elements 377
  • 3 - Religion 404
  • Concordances 434
  • Addenda 451
  • Index of Sites 517
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