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Durham University

Department of Archaeology


Publication details for Professor Charlotte Roberts

Groves, S., Roberts, C.A., Johnstone, C., Hall, R. & Dobney, K. (2003). A high status burial from Ripon Cathedral, North Yorkshire, England: differential diagnosis of a chest deformity. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology 13(6): 358-368.

Author(s) from Durham


Excavations beneath the crossing at Ripon Cathedral in North Yorkshire recently revealed a burial radiocarbon dated to the late 15th century AD. The burial was that of a young adult female; the location of the grave suggests a person of relatively high status. The very well preserved skeleton revealed abnormal changes to the bones of the thoracic cavity including anterior bowing of the sternum, flattening of the spinous processes of thoracic vertebrae three to nine against the processes below each one, and changes to the ribs that suggested anterior displacement of the rib cage. The skeletal changes are described and differential diagnoses presented. Treatment to an underlying chest deformity, pectus carinatum, is thought to be the underlying cause of the skeletal changes; this study may lend direct insight into the concepts of body image in the Medieval period.