Boot-wearing high-status Saxon with rickets among 10 skeletons found in Lincoln

By Ben Miller | 18 June 2014 | Updated: 24 June 2014

Archaeologists will investigate the injuries and physical deformities of 10 bodies found at the medieval Lincoln Castle

A photo of a human skull
Seven adults and three children, thought to have died during the Saxon era, are being examined in Lincoln© Lincolnshire County Council
A high-status Saxon suffering from severe rickets in his legs who was wrapped in linen and reburied in a church wall could undergo DNA tests alongside a stabbed teenager as part of the £22 million refurbishment of the medieval Lincoln Castle.

A photo of a woman examining a human skeleton laid out on a bed inside a laboratory
The oldest child bore evidence of a stab wound© Lincolnshire County Council
Found in a limestone sarcophagus, the powerful Saxon – described as holding “national significance” by archaeologists – was a former rickets sufferer in his early 20s who died wearing his boots.

Experts admit uncertainty surrounding his cause of death. One of the three children found would not have been older than six, with one of the other two – aged between 10 and 14 – bearing the scar of a stab mark from around the time of their death.

“The limestone sarcophagus is now with a stone conservator and is drying out nicely,” said Mary Powell, of the Lincoln Castle Revealed project.

“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.”

The remains were found in a newly-discovered Saxon church during the creation of a lift and stair tower at the imposing Norman castle. Thought to date from around 900 AD, the adults include four men and three women, all aged between 18 and 45.

A photo of an archaeological site
Only one of the bodies was afforded special treatment in its burial© Lincolnshire County Council
“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,” added Powell.

“We’re also planning facial reconstructions using the skeletons that are in the best condition.

“When Lincoln Castle’s new visitor attraction opens, we will be able to offer visitors a fascinating glimpse at life in Saxon Lincoln.”

The transformed castle is expected to be fully revealed in April 2015, when it will become the home of the 1215 Magna Carta held by the city’s cathedral.

The first full opening of the site’s former male prison and improved access to the male and female Victorian prisons will also be among the highlights at William the Conqueror’s fortress.

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More from Culture24's Archaeology section:

Archaeologists find holy bones and Saxon coffin in wall niche during Lincoln Castle dig

Lincoln Castle's £22 million restoration set to open to public on Magna Carta anniversary

Society of Antiquaries to restore and display Magna Carta for 800th anniversary
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Julia Arizona, comments noted, article amended June 24, 2014 (editor)
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