Congenital and developmental skeletal defects in relation to Anglo-Saxon lifestyle and migration.




This research started as a Masters dissertation and has since expanded into an ongoing research project. In a nutshell this is what I hope to achieve:

The extent of migration leading to the Anglo-Saxon period has long been a topic of debate; this was highlighted in Sally Crawford’s work (2009). More traditional views believe that this period saw a large scale migration of people from Germanic regions that almost completely replaced the indigenous English people, while others believe that the period represented the migration of a select amount of people who integrated into and influenced society.


This research purposes to evaluate the extent of migration leading to the Anglo-Saxon period by comparing the congenital and developmental skeletal defects from Anglo-Saxon populations with Romano-British and contemporary Germanic populations from Northern Europe.


Ethne Barne’s (1994) work on congenital and developmental defects demonstrates how they are influenced by environmental and genetic factors. Environmental factors include diet (such as a lack of folic acid linked to spina bifida) and lifestyle (such as stress applied to the bone before fully fused causing irregular development). Genetic factors are related to population variance and many are hereditary. Therefore, if a new group of people are present, that have no family relationship to the previous group, their genetic make up (and their defects) will be different.


Studying pathologies related to nutritional unavailability (such as rickets, scurvy etc) alongside congenital and developmental defects caused by diet, will also enable a comparison to be made between nutritional availability in the Romano-British and Anglo-Saxon periods. This will demonstrate whether being part of a larger empire with increased trade networks meant that people had better access to food (nutrients).




Barnes, E. (1994) Developmental Defects of the Axial Skeleton in Paleopathology. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Crawford, S. (2009) Daily Life in Anglo-Saxon England. Greenwood World Publishing, Oxford.






Julie Walker BSc MA ACIFA 


   Julie has a Bachelors of Science degree in Archaeology & Palaeocology from Queen's University Belfast and a Masters Degree in Osteoarchaeology from University of Southampton and her professional memberships include the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (ACIFA grade) and the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology. She has undertaken fieldwork in Northern Ireland, England and Germany and is an established osteologist with an academic focus on population health and mobility.


                                                 Academic Research



Presentations / Outreach



 This ongoing research has been presented at several events so far; including conferences for British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) and the Theoretical Archaeology Group (TAG).



Future presentations or outreach events will be posted here.

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