Identifying the People of early Medieval Wales

Staff:Mark Redknap [with Dr Alice Roberts (Bristol University)]

While there are an estimated 61,000 human remains in the care of 150 museums in England, the human remains held by ourselves forms only a small (but significant) percentage (over 4,000 CMS entries) of our overall collections. The recent analysis by Dr Louise Loe (University of Bournemouth) of over 800 inhumations from Llandough has revealed important data on the demographic profile and health of the early medieval population in south east Wales.

This work seeks to establish clear dating and historical contexts for comparative material from other areas in Wales. Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) has already provided new dates which have allowed a number of burials to be reassessed. Two skulls from Buttington near Welshpool, allegedly from the Battle of Buttington (AD 893) are now known to be post-medieval. Most significantly, burials found during the 1888 and 1938-48 excavations at the Roman villa at Cae'r Mead, Llantwit Major, are confirmed to form part of an early medieval cemetery overlying the villa ruins (c.AD 640-70 and c.AD 790-990). These results have opened up new lines of enquiry regarding the depositional histories of these human remains, and the significance of their osteology. Data on human remains from Llan-gors crannog, Powys, and Llanbedrgoch, Anglesey, are being integrated into the programme, though the initial publication will focus on the Buttington, Llantwit Major and Benllech data.