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Title: Spears or ploughshares : multiple indicators of activity related stress and social status in four Early Medieval populations from the North East of England
Author: Groves, Sarah E.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3521 3901
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2006
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This study examines the patterns of musculoskeletal stress markers in four Early Medieval skeletal samples from the North East of England, and the relationship between these conditions and social status, as indicated by grave goods. Although social status in Early Medieval England has long been the subject of research, the question of how status was achieved is yet to be answered. Textual evidence and burial practices suggest that status may have been acquired through heredity and kinship, but it is also possible that the activities undertaken by an individual during life were important in defining status. The human skeletal remains from furnished Early Medieval cemeteries offer the possibility of examining patterns of skeletal change, which may be the result of physical activity, together with indicators of social stratification from burial practice. This study examines the background to the study of markers of musculoskeletal stress (MSM) in archaeological skeletal samples, and clinical research into the aetiology and epidemiology of these changes. As the aetiology of conditions used as MSM in archaeological material is not fully understood, it is proposed that examining several different MSM will produce a more reliable results. In this study, osteoarthritis of the appendicular joints, enthesopathies, Schmorl's nodes and asymmetry in diaphyseal morphology of the paired humeri and femora are examined in adult skeletons from Castledyke South (Barton on Humber, Humberside), Norton Mill Lane (North Yorkshire), Bamburgh (Northumberland) and Norton Bishopsmill (North Yorkshire). The patterns of these changes are then interpreted in relation to burial practice at each of the four sites, and archaeological and documentary evidence for activity. This study shows that there are differences in the patterns of MSM between the status groups, and particularly between individuals that were buried with weapons and those buried with clothes fittings, suggesting that the level of activity undertaken during life may have been associated with social status.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available