The face of an Anglo Saxon man who died around the time of the Norman Conquest peers out from beneath the ruins of a chapel at Lincoln Castle
Facial reconstruction experts at the University of Dundee’s Centre for Anatomy and Human Identification recreated this face of a Saxon man whose skeleton was discovered on the site of an old church at Lincoln Castle during a dig in 2013.
The skeleton was one of ten sets of remains discovered, including the body of a high status man – still wearing his leather boots – within a stone sarcophagus.
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Much speculation about the identity of the occupant of the stone sarcophagus followed – perhaps he was and Anglo Saxon King or Bishop?
But it was the body of the male who lay nearby that gave the University’s renowned centre, the opportunity to attempt one of her forensic historical reconstructions.
The man’s skull had been excellently preserved by his position under the important sarcophagus burial, making it “the best candidate” for reconstruction out of the ten skeletons found at the castle site.
The burial of the man was one of eight which were interred inside a small stone church or chapel which predates Lincoln Castle and was previously unknown.
“Osteological analysis identified the skeleton as that of a man aged between 36 and 45 years old,” said Cecily Spall, from archaeologists FAS Heritage, who oversaw the bid.
“He had suffered from a range of degenerative bone diseases, suggesting an active and strenuous lifestyle. His body was buried in both a wooden coffin and cloth shroud.”
High-precision radiocarbon dating indicated he died between 1035 to 1070, just before the Norman Conquest, and may well have been an Anglo-Scandinavian who grew up in the local area.
“Isotope analysis of his bones and teeth suggests that he originated in eastern England and could well have been born and bred in Lincolnshire,” added Spall.
One of the three children found in the burial would not have been older than six, with one of the other two – aged between 10 and 14 – bearing the scar of a stab mark from around the time of their death. The adults include four men and three women, who were all aged between 18 and 45 at the time of their deaths.
As well as the skeletons and sarcophagus another dig near the castle’s prison unearthed a surprising array of artefacts – including a Roman bronze eagle’s wing from the late 1st century, thought to have been part of a grand imperial statue in the nearby forum. The dig also unearthed Elizabethan coins and fourteenth century pottery.
Finds from a late Roman town house, unearthed where the Cathedral’s world renowned Magna Carta Vault now stands, and a stone scratched with the names of prisoners awaiting transportation to Australia are among the other find at the castle.
Discover these finds in Lincoln Castle’s Archaeology exhibition.
By Norman times, Lincoln was the third city of the realm in prosperity and importance. In 1068, two years after the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror began building Lincoln Castle on a site occupied since Roman times. For 900 years the castle was used as a court and prison…