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British Osteological Collections

During my PhD I needed to identify British skeletal collections that would be useful to my project and realised that a database providing information about such collections did not exist. I have therefore created a crude list of collections that I came across in my search during my PhD. The list includes the site name, it’s location, the collection’s period, the location where the collection is currently held and a web link to take you to the source of the information.

Please note that all of the following information is available publicly (I found them through Google searches or through institutions websites). This information also only relates to British collections, i.e. archaeological collections excavated in the UK,  otherwise the list would be pretty long! There are also collections that I have most likely missed so please free free to let me know of any, or if you spot a mistake on this page!

Also, I came across a database, which provides information regarding human remains that have been found in caves across Britain. This is the Gazetter of Caves and is amazing! This information includes period of site, any radio-carbon dates, references, any associated finds and the National Monuments Record Number. In addition, and most useful for PhD work is the Minimum Number of Individuals (MNI), types of individuals (adults/juveniles) and the last known location of the curated remains. It is a great resource that has helped me find more remains that I can include in my research.

Site Name Location (of site) Location of holding  Period Additional Info Web Link
All Saint’s Church Fishergate, York University of Sheffield Multi-period 7 individuals of Roman date, inhumation burials from the medieval All Saint’s churchyard cemetery (approx. 11th-14th c. 550 burials), and 113 individuals from 10 Civil War Mass Graves (mid 17th c.). shef.ac.uk
Barton-under-Needwood Barton-under-Needwood BARC Collections Bronze Age Bronze Age cremations barc.brad.ac.uk
Blackfriars, Gloucester BARC Collections 1246 to 1539 AD Dominican Friary
On loan from Gloucester City Council Heritage and Museums Service
Box Lane Pontefract BARC Collections Medieval Lay cemetery barc.brad.ac.uk
Bredon Hill Gloucestershire ? Iron age archaeology
Breedon-on-the Hill Leicestershire The Hunterian Museum Anglo Saxon The Breedon collection was used by AEW Miles to develop a system for the ageing of human remains on the basis of tooth wear. rcseng.ac.uk
California Cemetery, Baldock Hertfordshire BARC Collections 200 and 550 AD (Roman) barc.brad.ac.uk
Carver Street, Methodist Chapel, Sheffield University of Sheffield 19th c. 74 adult; 32 immature
Non-conformist burial ground in Sheffield city centre.
Christ Church Spitalfields London NHM 1646-1859 Currently on loan (from MOLA?) nhm.ac.uk
Crayke North Yorkshire BARC Collections 9th-10th C barc.brad.ac.uk
Eccles, Kent Eccles, Kent BARC Collections 7th C & later barc.brad.ac.uk
Farringdon: St Brides lower churchyard Farringson Street, London Museum of London 17th-19th C 19th century
St Bride’s Fleet Street and Lower St Bride’s Churchyard, Farringdon are part of the same parish population but represent two different social classes(1770-1849) (Miles & Conheeney 2005).
Fishergate House York University of Durham late 10th-16th centuries AD 80 being between the ages of one and 12 years dur.ac.uk
Great Chesterford Essex University of Southampton Anglo Saxon pathbrite.com
Greenwell and Rolleston collection Yorkshire NHM Bronze Age Currently Closed nhm.ac.uk
Helmsley North Yorkshire BARC Collections 19th C Rural Quaker cemetery barc.brad.ac.uk
Hereford Cathedral Hereford BARC Collections Late Saxon to Medieval Lay cemetery including, two large plague pits. barc.brad.ac.uk
Hickleton South Yorkshire BARC Collections Medieval and post medieval Rural barc.brad.ac.uk
Low Farm Kirby Grindalythe, North Yorkshire University of Durham (mid/ late Iron Age) 5 juvs, 1 adult possible M dur.ac.uk
Malmesbury Abbey Wiltshire University of York 12th – 13th C A population of 69 skeletons from a late 12th to late 13th century graveyard, including males, females and non-adults with a variety of pathology, much of it which is age-related york.ac.uk
Newcastle Infirmary, Newcastle-upon-Tyne University of Sheffield mid 18th- early 20th C. shef.ac.uk
Polhill collection Kent The Hunterian Museum Anglo Saxon The Polhill collection is currently housed at Anglia Polytechnic University but is still available for study by arrangement with the Hunterian Museum and APU. Please contact the museum for further information rcseng.ac.uk
Poundbury collection Dorchester NHM 1st-4th C (Roman) Materials from the graves are stored at Dorchester’s Dorset County Museum. There are more than 100 published studies on this collection. nhm.ac.uk
Raunds Furnells Northampton -shire BARC Collections 10th-11th C barc.brad.ac.uk
Roman Southern cemetery London Museum of London 1st-4th C (Roman) Please note that these collections are closed to external researchers due to ongoing research work by the Centre. museumoflondon
Roman Western cemetery london Museum of London Roman This Romano-British cemetery lies outside the western boundary of the first city in the Roman province, Londinium.
Please note that the Romano-British collections are closed to external researchers due to ongoing research work by the Centre.
Sancton, East Yorkshire BARC Collections 5th-6th C On loan from the Hull and East Riding Museum barc.brad.ac.uk
Scheuer Collection CAHID Multi-period The Scheuer Collection is believed to be the only active repository for juvenile skeletal remains held anywhere in the world. It consists of the remains of over 100 subadult individuals, collected from archaeological and historical anatomical sources. dundee.ac.uk
St Bride’s Church Fleet Street Farringson Street, London Museum of London 17th-19th C 14 sub-adults, 213 adults.
St Bride’s Fleet Street and Lower St Bride’s Churchyard, Farringdon are part of the same parish population but represent two different social classes
St Gregory’s Priory, Canterbury Kent University 1086-1539 AD kentarchaeology
St James and St Mary Magdalene Chichester BARC Collections early 12th to 17th C. (Medieval) leprosarium and alms house.
On loan from Chichester District Museum
St James’s Abbey Northampton University of York medieval From the Augustinian Abbey of St James (1104-1538),
some of high status.
Assemblage also includes females and children.
St Lawrence’s Church Warwick University of Sheffield 12th-early 15th c. Parish church burial ground. shef.ac.uk
St Peter’s Wolverhampton BARC Collections 19th C urban barc.brad.ac.uk
St. Barnabas Church London 18th -19th C ? ?
St. Giles Brough, North Yorkshire BARC Collections Medieval, circa 1181 and 1576 AD Rural hospital barc.brad.ac.uk
The Black Gate Cemetery Newcastle-upon-Tyne University of Sheffield 8th-12th c. 441 adult; 202 immature shef.ac.uk
The Church of St Hilda Coronation Street, South Shields, Newcastle-upon-Tyne University of Sheffield 19th c. 117 adult; 87 immature.
Parish church burial ground.
The Hunterian Collection London The Hunterian Museum In 1799 the UK government purchased the collection of the surgeon and anatomist John Hunter FRS (1728-1793). It was placed in the care of the Company (later the Royal College) of Surgeons. . rcseng.ac.uk
The Odontological Collection London The Hunterian Museum The Odontological Collection contains an extensive array of skulls, jaws and teeth from humans and hundreds of species of animals. These show normal dental anatomy and a wide range of dental pathologies. The collection also contains post-cranial skeletal remains, both human and animal, as well as dental casts, dentures and prostheses and dental instruments rcseng.ac.uk
The Parish Church of St Mary and St Lawrence, Bolsover University of Sheffield 18th-19th c. 40 adult; 30 immature.
Parish church burial ground.
(adults and adolescents currently on loan to Dr. Malcolm Lillie at the University of Hull).
Towton Towton BARC Collections 1461 AD mass grave related to the Battle of Towton barc.brad.ac.uk
Wetwang Slack East Yorkshire BARC Collections Bronze Age and Iron Age On loan from the Hull and East Riding Museum etheses.whiterose
Wharram Percy Yorkshire Portsmouth 10-12th C archaeology
Duckworth Laboratory, Leverhulme Centre for Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge Contains around 17,000 specimens (skulls, individual skeletal elements, or complete skeletons) from Europe (over 5,300 specimens), Africa (over 8,900), the Americas (over 300), Asia (over 400), the Middle East (over 1,000), and Oceania (over 600). The European sample ranges from the Neolithic to the Medieval period, while the African sample consists of mostly Ancient Egyptian remains. /duckworth.

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