The 87th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2018)

The lost children of St Augustine, Bristol, UK: A Study of commingled remains


Faculty of Science and Technology, Bournemouth University

April 12, 2018 , Zilker 1/2/3 Add to calendar

Often, juvenile skeletal remains are neglected due to the common preconception that they are unable to provide meaningful information. Excavations between June 1983 and July 1984 in St Augustine in Bristol, England (UK) uncovered a large amount of disarticulated and commingled remains which had not previously been studied until now. This study focuses on the analysis of commingled juvenile remains to give greater insight into the lives of the children and to understand the extent to which they developed and lived differently to modern children. The initial hypothesis suggests that the childrens ages would coincide with typical weaning ages (3 – 5.5 years).

The collection comprised of unsorted commingled remains and the minimum number of individuals (MNI) was unknown. In order to establish the MNI, the traditional MNI method was applied. Radiographs of mandibles were taken to accurately assess the development of dentition and whether biological and chronological age differed. Sexing was attempted using the shape of the pelvis and mandible. A paleopathological examination was carried out to determine the presence of disease which may indicate the cause of death. Results indicated that there were at least 15 children represented in the collection, with a large age range from 31 prenatal weeks to 24 years. The most frequent age group being 3 years – 5.5 years. There were only two potential signs of disease visible– Genu Valgum and a dentigerous cyst. Interestingly, the results provided a platform to further investigate the younger children in future studies.