Human Remains Team – Summer 2018

Max enjoying the sunshine

The Human Remains Team has had a busy and productive summer this year, so we just wanted to give you an update on the work we have been doing.

“Introduction to Human Remains” course

Course attendees recording their skeletons, with George II looking on.

Our introductory course had nine attendees this year. Over the course of the week, they learnt basic skeletal anatomy, how to assess skeletons for their age, sex, and any illnesses they suffered from. They learnt about methods of recording and analysing skeletal remains, and discussed the ethics of examining bones.

Course attendees presenting their week’s work in the marquee.

They recorded three of our favourite skeletons over the week, and presented an interesting discussion of “The Tale of the Three Spines” to the other volunteers at the end of the week.

Course tutors and attendees, SHARP Introduction to Human Remains course 2018.

Human Remains volunteers

We had a number of people interested in volunteering in post-excavation work with the Human Remains Team this year. In total, we had seven keen beans over two weeks.

They worked on a selection of interesting projects, including measurements of teeth and hip joints to determine the sex of skeletons where the usual features aren’t present. Others looked at new methods to assess puberty status in our adolescent and young adult population.

Three of our volunteers hard at work with some of our 400 or so skeletons in the SHARP archive.

We also had a crack team working on recording some of our disarticulated skeletal remains. With so many skeletons buried in the same burial ground over such a long period (approximately 650 to 900 AD), the gravediggers were prone to disturbing older burials. These remains were returned to the ground, but rarely as a whole skeleton. We are only now getting the chance to assess these bones properly, to learn even more about our population, with the aim of potentially returning these bones to their original owners.

This is a project we hope to work on further in future years, and we are in the process of submitting a grant application to Heritage Lottery Funding to help with this.

Open Day

Claire and Maria raring to go for SHARP Open Day 2018, overlooking a display examining the different burial methods found at th