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A case of projectile trauma from the medieval Poulton Chapel, Cheshire, the United Kingdom

Canavan, SM, Burrell, CL, Emery, MM and Gonzalez, S (2019) A case of projectile trauma from the medieval Poulton Chapel, Cheshire, the United Kingdom. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 29 (6). pp. 1079-1090. ISSN 1047-482X

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.2821 (Published version)


Excavations at the medieval cemetery of Poulton Chapel, Cheshire, have uncovered over 900 articulated human skeletal remains, with numbers predicted to reach as high as 1500 as excavations continue. The demographics of this archaeological site is typical of a medieval rural assemblage. However, SK535 provides a glimpse into some of the traumatic aspects of medieval life. The excavation of SK535 revealed a middle‐aged adult male around 168 cm in stature. His position of burial was typical of Christian burials with an east‐west orientation, but the positioning of his arms identified that this was not a typical burial. His right arm was flexed at the elbow crossing the thorax, whereas the left arm was in the extended position. This is different from the other arm positions observed at Poulton Chapel. A metal object, identified here as a Type M7 bodkin arrowhead, was recovered from underneath the right arm, from within the thorax. This arrowhead was potentially armour piercing, and the type was commonly used during the 12th–13th century. Radiocarbon dates obtained for SK535 coincide with the time of the use of this arrowhead. Following the initial assessment, the only other instance of trauma identified in SK535 was a healed transverse fracture to the right distal ulna. Due to the location of Poulton Chapel in Cheshire, SK535 could have been wounded by an arrow carrying the M7 bodkin during English‐Welsh border skirmishes, which occurred frequently during this time period. The demographic profile of this individual indicates a possible professional fighter of the medieval period; however, no firm skeletal evidence of occupation could be provided. Nonetheless, this case study not only highlights the violence experienced during the medieval period but also indicates the ability for the survival of some traumas.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: 2101 Archaeology, 0403 Geology, 1601 Anthropology
Subjects: C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CC Archaeology
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Divisions: Biological & Environmental Sciences (from Sep 19)
Publisher: Wiley
Related URLs:
Date Deposited: 02 Apr 2020 10:10
Last Modified: 04 Sep 2021 07:32
DOI or ID number: 10.1002/oa.2821
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/12636
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