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Durham University

Department of Archaeology

Research Postgraduates

Publication details for Professor Rebecca Gowland

Newman, Sophie L., Gowland, Rebecca L. & Caffell, Anwen C. (2019). North and south: A comprehensive analysis of non‐adult growth and health in the industrial revolution (AD 18th–19th C), England. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 169(1): 104-121.

Author(s) from Durham



Stark health inequalities exist in the present day between the North and South of England, with people in the South, overall, experiencing better health across a range of parameters (e.g., life expectancy and number of years spent in good health). Bioarchaeological studies of skeletal remains from cemeteries across this geographical divide have the ability to provide a temporal perspective on the etiology, longevity, and nature of this disparity.


In total 574 non‐adults (0–17 years) from six urban sites (c. AD 1711–1856) were analyzed from the North and South of England. Measurements of long bone length, cortical thickness, and vertebral dimensions were analyzed alongside both skeletal and dental palaeopathological data to assess patterns of disease and growth disruption between skeletal samples.


There were few significant differences in growth parameters between the six sites in relation to geographical location. However, the northern‐based sample Coach Lane (North Shields) demonstrated some of the highest rates of pathology, with metabolic disease being particularly prevalent.


Northern and southern populations suffered alike from the detrimental environmental conditions associated with urban centers of the 18th–19th centuries. However, the elevated prevalence of vitamin D deficiency seen within the Coach Lane sample is indicative of a regionally specific risk that may be related to latitude, and/or the influence of particular industries operating in the North‐East.