Christina Lee

in The Oxford Handbook of Anglo-Saxon Archaeology

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199212149
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Archaeology


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This article explains that visible skeletal characteristics may have been unnoticed by their bearers, while socially — and physically — debilitating problems may leave no trace on the skeleton. Burial in consecrated ground, close to relics and the celebration of Christian ritual, had been an ecclesiastical privilege since the advent of monasticism in Anglo-Saxon England. The study showed that the Anglo-Saxon populations were slightly healthier, which may be linked to lifestyle. Nutrition plays an important part in maintaining a healthy immunity. Textual evidence seems to suggest the continuation of ‘folk medicine’ into the later Anglo-Saxon period, such as charms and rituals. The connection between religious buildings and health care may have been anticipated in special temples that were associated with the cure of disease in ancient Greece. It is feasible that Anglo-Saxon society had spaces for all kinds of people: the sick and the hale, the old and the young.

Keywords: skeleton; disease; Anglo-Saxon England; religious buildings; health care; Christian ritual; nutrition

Article.  9033 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Archaeology

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