A who’s who of the faces featured in the Elaine Evans Archaeology Gallery in Brighton Museum.
For the new archaeology gallery, Dr Paola Ponce from Archaeology South-East at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL, examined the remains of five individuals who lived and died in Brighton.
Her findings reveal a lot about their way of life.
Whitehawk woman from the Neolithic period
- Dates from: 3650–3520BC (95% confidence).
- Date found: 1933 as part of the excavations undertaken prior to the lengthening of the racecourse run-off.
- Location found: at the western end of one of the ditches forming the 3rd outer ring of ditches/banks. It was probably the southerly entrance to the enclosure, which might have been a prestigious place to be buried.
- Size, height and age: age 19-25; height 1.45m, which is small even for a Neolithic woman.
- How she died: Her general health seems good, but the bones of a neonatal baby nestling in her pelvis point to the probability that she died in childbirth.
- Interesting fact: Based upon isotope ratios from her teeth, it is probable that Whitehawk woman was not brought up locally and may have come from an area as far away as Hereford.
Ditchling Road man from the Bronze Age
- Dates from: 2,287-2,125 BC (83% probability).
- Date found: June 1921 by workmen whilst road widening.
- Location found: Ditchling Road, about 300m south of Old Boat Corner.
- Size, height and age: age, 25 – 35; height 1.71m, which was slightly below average – he was not very muscular or robust.
- How he died: there are no obvious signs as to how he died, but we do know that at various times he suffered serious malnutrition and that he was probably pale and sickly. He may not have had a very strong constitution and was therefore more susceptible to disease.
- Interesting fact: from the osteological review, we know he suffered from a loss of teeth (both first molars) and tooth decay. In addition, some areas of porosity in his bones point to him being anaemic.
Slonk Hill man from the Iron Age
- Dates from: 393-206 BC (95% probability).
- Date found: 1968 during a rescue archaeological dig by Brighton and Hove Archaeological Society in advance of the diversion works to the A27.
- Location found: immediately north of the Shoreham Bypass and about 1km west of the Holmbush Shopping Centre.
- Size, height and age: age 24 – 31; height 1.71m, which was slightly above average — he was muscular and robust.
- How he died: there are no obvious signs as to how he died. Analysis of his dental plaque showed the presence of smoke and charcoal, He was working or living in very smoky conditions; he may have been a metalworker, which might have affected his lungs.
- Interesting fact: he has very high cheek bones, a cleft chin and although generally good, a few of his teeth were congenitally joined. It would have given him a very distinctive look and smile.
Patcham woman from the Romano-British era
- Dates from: 210 – 356AD (89% probability).
- Date found: June 1936, whlie workmen were digging ditches for laying drains.
- Location found: in Patcham, about 20m west of Overhill Road and 50m south of Ladies Mile Road.
- Size, height and age: age: 25 – 35; height 1.59m, which was average height — she was petite and slender.
- How she died: generally there are no obvious signs from her bones as to how she died. However, around the time of death, a nail got impaled in the back of her head.
- Interesting fact: from the osteological review, her spine shows signs of stress (bending and lifting) and there is joint disease in her right knee and lower spine. She obviously lived a hard physical life.
Stafford Road man from the Saxon times
- Dates from: 424 – 570 Ad (95% probability) He was an Early Saxon after the Roman army left in 410AD.
- Date found: August 1985 during a rescue archaeological excavation after skeletons were uncovered during private building works.
- Location found: somewhere in the gardens of houses in Stafford Road.
- Size height and age: age 45+; height 1.75m, which was taller than average — he was muscular and robust.
- How he died: there are no obvious signs as to how he died, but the dental abscesses that he had and in particular, the huge abscess in his front upper jaw, could have given him fatal blood poisoning or triggered a heart attack.
- Interesting fact: the review points to him being strong and muscular and living a very active lifestyle, which was causing signs of disease (arthritis) in his spine, shoulders and hips. He at one time suffered a broken rib and had suffered a severe blow or trauma to his left thigh bone. Given the probably poor diet, a not terribly sanitary environment, disease and it being dangerous times, Stafford man had lived a comparatively long life.