Don Brothwell and Sedgeford

Many SHARPies will have been saddened to hear of the death of Don Brothwell earlier this week.

After Peter Jewell’s excavations in 1957-8, which revealed Anglo-Saxon human remains in Boneyard field, Don carried out an excavation on the site in 1960. The skeletons he excavated are now in the Duckworth Collection at Cambridge University. Although the excavation itself was not published, we believe that Don used the Sedgeford skeletons in his research into molar wear and age at death, which is presented in his classic book, Digging Up Bones (first published in 1963). Other references to Sedgeford skeletons, for example the pathologies he noted in his analysis, can be found in his large body of published work.

Professor Brothwell returned to visit the site again in the summer of 2005, when he gave a lecture and took soils samples from several burials to use in his research into organic and inorganic chemical micromorphological variation in human grave soils. This study was published as a paper entitled ‘Interred with their bones’: soil micromorphology and chemistry in the study of human remains in the March 2014 edition of Antiquity. You can read it here.

Don was able to supply the Human Remains Team with useful plans and documents relating to his excavation, without which we would know much less about the remains excavated. This information will be incorporated into the forthcoming Boneyard human remains monograph.

Charlotte Burrill has kindly supplied some photos of Don’s 2005 visit to SHARP.

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