Figure 1.

 Right Ulna, adult male. Medullary cavity filled with trabecular bone.

   Figure 2.  

 Right Ulna, adult male. Medullary also filled with sclerotic trabecular bone. Reflected view.  

During recent work in a local N Yorkshire cemetery, several of the individuals shared characteristics noted from another collection of Northern British specimens from c. 1000 CE, the Blackgate Collection. The N Yorkshire cemetery group includes individuals from modern to early modern/late medieval, and the remains are commingled, so determining the age of the remains depends on C14 dating, or assessing tooth wear and assuming heavily worn teeth to be a late medieval feature, unless features of a specifically medieval activity are present.  


The anomalies in the Blackgate and N Yorkshire cemetery individuals are not pathological but may be related to extreme loads and/or strains. I am specifically investigating endosteal hyperostosis as related to long bow archery.


Hypertrabecular deposition and sclerotic trabecular bone are typically associated with osteomyelitic conditions such as yaws. Figure 1 is of an adult right ulna, viewed from distal to proximal with the interosseous crest at the bottom of the picture and the anterior surface to the left. Note the sclerotic trabecular bone in the medullary cavity. The shaft shows fusiform expansion by appearing ‘bloaty’ and rounded in gross appearance. The interosseous crest is abnormal and ill-defined. Photograph by R Drew, individual from Miami FL c. 2000-1000 BCE


Figure 2 is also an adult right ulna, reflected views, with the interosseous crest sharp and recognizable, the element a normal shape and size. This is from an adult male individual from the Blackgate collection curated in Sheffield University. Photograph by R Drew, access to BG 628 courtesy of Andrew Chamberlain.


To investigate the possibility of confidently identifying such a specific activity/stress identification, known archers from Towton Massacre will be compared to both of the Northern British collections cited above.