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Keywords:

  • Cross-striation;
  • Striae of Retzius;
  • St. Bride's Church

Abstract

The crypts outside St Bride's Church, London, contain a documented collection of skeletal remains dating from the mid-18th century. Some of these remains became mixed during post-war restoration work on the church. The worst example of such mixing involves ten infants that were boxed all together with their corresponding coffin plates. All the infants were aged between 1 and 4 years at death. Recognized skeletal aging criteria proved unsuccessful in identifying the bodies. A more precise method of age estimation was utilized in order to separate these individuals. Age was determined using the incremental markers found in dental microstructure which are thought to be formed in circadian and circaseptan rhythms. The resulting age estimates were compared with the real ages obtained from the coffin plates and death certificates. Confident identification was achieved in eight out of ten cases. This study illustrates the potential value of a little-known aging method in circumstances where commonly used methods have proved unsuccessful. © 1995 Wiley-Liss, Inc.