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The First Evidence for Leprosy in Early Mediaeval Scotland: Two Individuals from Cemeteries in St. Andrews, Fife, Scotland, with Evidence for Normal Burial Treatment



The study of skeletal material recovered from excavations at two distinct early mediaeval cemeteries in St. Andrews, Scotland, resulted in the diagnosis of one individual from each cemetery as having had facies leprosa (leprosy). Radiocarbon dating gave a likely date in the 8th century ad for the Hallow Hill skeleton, and the Kirkhill skull was probably from the same period. Both skulls displayed the full range of classic signs of facies leprosa. The bone changes were slightly different in the two, the maxillary alveolus having been more severely affected in the Hallow Hill skull, whereas the posterior palatal area showed greater damage in the skull from Kirkhill. The skeletons were not segregated but buried in the middle of cemeteries used for the general population, thus supporting previous research in both the history of medicine and human bioarchaeology that suggests that people with leprosy were not necessarily stigmatised in the past. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.