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St Patrick's Isle Pagan Lady Burial Human Remains

Date made: Viking: 800-1265

Description: The skeletal remains of the Pagan Lady lay within the most elaborate lintel grave in the Christian cemetery on St. Patrick's Isle. A pit was dug into the sandy soil and its sides were lined with slate and sandstone slabs. No stones were put on the bottom of the grave or at either the head or foot ends. The grave was covered by a double-layer of stone slabs.

The bodily remains are not complete and are very fragile. Fragments of ilium (hip), thoracic vertebrae, left tibia (shin) and eroded pieces of long bones survive. Her left arm, pelvis and skull had largely decayed, but some teeth survive.

The Pagan Lady was placed on her back with her arms at her sides and her head resting on a feather pillow. She cannot be aged precisely but she was over 40 years of age. She suffered from osteomalacia, symptomatic of vitamin D defficiency which may have given her legs a slightly bowed appearance. The cause of this is not known. It was originally suggested that it was a result of lots of pregnancies in short succession, but more recently, lack of sunlight has been proposed as a contributing factor.

She had been clothed in a woollen dress with a tablet-woven belt and a sprang (open-work) head-dress and covered with a veil or shroud. Surrounding her were grave goods indicating her high status.

Materials: bone

Date found: 1984

Object name: human remains

Collection: Archaeology Collection

ID number: 1984-0016/484


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