A Migration Age Anglo-Saxon Leper

Paleomicrobiology and isotopic analysis has the ability to completely change what we know of past infectious diseases. A study published this month on a fifth century Anglo-Saxon skeleton is one of the most complete I have read. Lesions on skeletons found at Great Chesterfield in Essex, England, suggested possible leprosy. To confirm this diagnosis, they... Continue Reading →

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Contours of the Black Death Cemetery at Charterhouse Square, London

Excavations for the Crossrail Extension project discovered the second major Black Death cemetery in London in 2013. This week the first peer-reviewed publication of findings from the site appeared (in press).  As a rescue excavation in the midst of a construction project, the site had to be quickly surveyed for the extent of the cemetery and this... Continue Reading →

Setting Affairs in Order During the Plague, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne 1636

Keith Wrightson, Ralph Tailor's Summer: A Scrivener, his City, and the Plague. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011. Newcastle-upon-Tyne is one of those cities that is rarely the focus of a plague study - an industrial town whose prosperity and continued existence was based on its economic impact. Coal was king in seventeenth century... Continue Reading →

Mapping Malaria in Anglo-Saxon England

England once looked very different. Much of southern Britain was marshland for most of the island's occupied history. These bogs, fens, and marshes ensured that areas of virtual wilderness persisted from before Roman Britain through the Norman period and beyond. Despite the difficulties of using fenlands, these areas were not only occupied throughout the Anglo-Saxon... Continue Reading →

DNA of the Black Death at East Smithfield, London

It seems as though every couple of months a new paper is published reporting Yersinia pestis DNA from ancient remains. This week brought the latest installment from London's East Smithfield Black Death cemetery. This cemetery holds a special place in the scientific investigations of the Black Death because it is so well documented as being... Continue Reading →

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