Skeleton reveals tough life

PUBLISHED: 12:01 21 January 2010 | UPDATED: 11:36 25 May 2010

STARVED, diseased and suffering the effects of hard labour - a Roman skeleton has revealed the difficult life faced by residents in Weston nearly 2,000 years ago.

STARVED, diseased and suffering the effects of hard labour - a Roman skeleton has revealed the difficult life faced by residents in Weston nearly 2,000 years ago.

Forensic archaeologists believe the skeleton, found in a dig at Weston College's Knightstone campus last year, belonged to a slender man aged between 36 and 45.

Tests reveal corroded spinal and hip joints and inflamed shins, which experts believe point to a tough life of hard labour.

Dr Malin Holst, of York Osteoarchaeology, said: "The individual experienced several periods of growth cessation as a result of undernourishment or illness during early childhood.

"Findings also confirmed that the individual also suffered from ill health during later adulthood.

"The skeleton showed evidence of a wide range of diseases and pathological conditions, some of which are rarely observed in archaeological skeletons."

Other illnesses identified were gallstones, chronic sinusitis and dental decay.

In addition to the skeleton, archaeologists from Avon Archaeological Unit also found third Century Romano-British-style pottery, including pots made in Oxford and tableware thought to be imported from France.

Other discoveries, including coins, metal work, animal bone and shellfish, are still being examined by the archaeological team.

The six-week excavation also unearthed walls and clay floors, thought to have formed a dwelling.

The site was close to an inlet or creek from the shoreline, which could have been used as a marina for fishing boats.

The find last August was the first to uncover clear evidence of a Roman settlement in Weston.

It was undertaken on behalf of Weston College as part of planning permission conditions to extend the existing Hans Price building.

Further analysis is expected to reveal more about the Roman settlement, with a full publication of the excavation results expected in 2011.

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