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Durham University

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Publication details for Miss Claire Hodson

Hodson, Claire M. (2017). Between Roundhouse and Villa: Assessing Perinatal and Infant Burials from Piddington, Northamptonshire. Britannia 48: 195-219.

Author(s) from Durham


The discovery of perinatal and infant individuals is common in the excavation of Iron Age and Romano-British domestic sites. In recent years, the discovery of many such burials has led to interpretations of infanticide and unceremonious disposal. Although this has been a widely considered phenomenon, much of the literature has focussed on the funerary context, and the biological age and sex estimates of these individuals, with little consideration of the palaeopathological evidence. This paper provides a detailed analysis of 17 perinates/infants from the Late Iron Age/Early Roman site of Piddington, Northamptonshire. It discusses the skeletal evidence for poor health and growth, and highlights the potential of these remains to reveal alternative insights into perinatal and infant death. Evidence of growth changes and pathological lesions were identified, suggesting that these individuals experienced chronic episodes of poor health that affected their skeletal development. The study explores the implications of these findings, within the context of Iron Age and Roman Britain. At Piddington, the death of these infants is not associated with the cultural practice of infanticide, but occurred due to poor health, highlighting the precarious nature of infant survival in the past.