The Commandery’s Skeleton

In 2004, an excavation was undertaken by Worcestershire Archaeology Service at the Commandery in Worcester. A series of old floor surfaces were revealed including a layer of limestone demolition material which still had traces of lime-wash and brown painted decoration on it and is thought, by archaeologists, to have belonged to a religious structure. The Commandery hospital and its chapel were re-developed in the later medieval period, and it’s possible that this demolition rubble was dumped in the late 15th century when the hospital was remodelled.

During their excavations, archaeologists unexpectedly discovered two skeletons, one of which belonged to an adult male of about 50 years of age. He stood approximately 5’10” tall; well above the average height of 5’7” in later medieval Britain

His skeletal remains were carefully analysed and suggest that he had suffered from sinusitis, anaemia and a degenerative joint disease or osteoporosis. At some time he appears to have suffered from an infection or trauma to his leg. Like many living in later medieval Worcester, he contended with gum disease, halitosis, tooth loss and dental abscesses.

For all this man’s health issues, he lived to a decent age. Although, we don’t know who he was, it’s thought he was probably someone of status, interred inside a religious building, rather than outdoors alongside the graves of Commandery hospital patients. The location of his grave is now marked in the floor of the Victorian kitchen at the Commandery

 

Reference: Goad, J., Crawford, A., Head, K., Western, G.- Archaeological Evaluation of Two Lift Shafts at The Commandery, Worcester, WCM101214, Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, Worcestershire County Council, 2004

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