Archaeologists find remains of French-born wounded Norman knight near Hereford Cathedral

By Ben Miller | 05 March 2015

"Very tough" knight found near cathedral along with potential leper or thief

A photo of human bones at a brown muddy archaeological site
A Norman knight in Hereford© Headland Archaeology
Archaeologists have been describing their discovery of a wounded Norman knight who was born in Normandy but proved himself as a warrior in Hereford, buried as one of 700 individuals including lepers and a woman suffering from a severed hand.

Excavating near the town’s Grade I-listed cathedral, on the banks of the River Wye, experts believe the man’s numerous fractures – all to his ribs and right shoulder, some of which were repeated and had not healed at the time of his death – would have been typical of injuries sustained through the tourneys and jousts of the 11th and 12th centuries.

“Obviously we can never be sure how people came about their wounds, but in this case there is a considerable amount of evidence suggesting this man was involved in some form of violent activity,” says archaeologist Andy Boucher, describing a figure who had an “unusual” break to his left leg.

A photo of human bones at a brown muddy archaeological site
© Headland Archaeology
“The locations of his injuries do match quite closely what might be expected from taking part in mock battles.

“The fact that he was still doing this after he was 45 suggests he must have been very tough”.

Analysis of the knight’s teeth shows he was likely to have been raised in Normandy, while a woman bearing a hand wound could have been a fellow leper of the Bishop of Hereford or an individual punished for stealing.

A photo of human bones at a brown muddy archaeological site
© Headland Archaeology
Around 2,500 burials were recorded between 2009 and 2011 as part of a landscaping and restoration project at the early 12th century cathedral. An accompanying book, Death in the Close – A Medieval Mystery, is due to be published in the spring or summer, available from the cathedral shop.


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Latest comment: >Make a comment
Roger Henderson, Bingley
Even now he doesn't look like a man you would mess with !

Haha, cheeky. I'd have to agree
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