Leprosy in Medieval Helsingborg: An Osteological Analysis of the St Clement Cemetery

Detta är en Master-uppsats från Lunds universitet/Historisk osteologi

Sammanfattning: The aim of this study was to investigate the presence of leprosy at the medieval cemetery if the St Clement church in Helsingborg. The material was excavated during 1958-1962 by Margareta Weidhagen-Hallerdt, however the results from the excavation was not published until 2010. New excavations were performed during the late 1980s and the results from the osteological analysis, which was conducted by Caroline Arcini (1999), showed that five individuals were infected with leprosy. This study investigates however leprosy is present in the material from the 1958s excavation and if infected individuals were buried close to the church as well as in the periphery. It is also investigated however socioeconomic differences occurs between individuals that show evidence of leprosy and those who don’t, which is reflected in stature, grave type and grave topography. The results from this analysis showed that two adult individuals, one male and one female, were infected with leprosy, and both individuals showed skeletal changes in the rhinomaxillary area. The male, dated to the 13th century, was buried in an earth grave in the periphery of the cemetery and was 3 cm shorter than the average height among males. The female can be dated to either the 11th-12th century or the 13th century and was buried in a grave with a carved sandstone next to the head. Her grave was placed within 5 m from the church. We can, from this study, see that individuals who were infected with leprosy could be buried in the periphery, as well as closer to the church. It is suggested that leprosy did not necessarily affect social status in medieval Helsingborg. Although, it is clear that leprosy affected individuals with both a higher and a lower social status.

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