• adolescence;
  • medieval;
  • growth;
  • menarche


The assessment of age-at-death in non-adult skeletal remains is under constant review. However, in many past societies an individual's physical maturation may have been more important in social terms than their exact age, particularly during the period of adolescence. In a recent article (Shapland and Lewis: Am J Phys Anthropol 151 (2013) 302–310) highlighted a set of dental and skeletal indicators that may be useful in mapping the progress of the pubertal growth spurt. This article presents a further skeletal indicator of adolescent development commonly used by modern clinicians: cervical vertebrae maturation (CVM). This method is applied to a collection of 594 adolescents from the medieval cemetery of St. Mary Spital, London. Analysis reveals a potential delay in ages of attainment of the later CVM stages compared with modern adolescents, presumably reflecting negative environmental conditions for growth and development. The data gathered on CVM is compared to other skeletal indicators of pubertal maturity and long bone growth from this site to ascertain the usefulness of this method on archaeological collections. Am J Phys Anthropol 153:144–153, 2014. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.