Summary justice or the King’s will? The first case of formal facial mutilation from Anglo-Saxon England

Garrard Cole, Peter W. Ditchfield, Katharina Dulias, Ceiridwen Edwards, Andrew Reynolds, Tony Waldron

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Abstract

This paper presents the first archaeological evidence for specific facial mutilation from Anglo-Saxon England, involving removal of the nose, upper lip and possible scalping, inflicted upon a young adult female of about 18 years of age. The injuries are consistent with documented punishments for female thieving slaves and adulteresses. Although mutilations of this kind do not appear in the written record until the tenth century AD, the instance reported here suggests that the practice emerged a century earlier. This case is examined against a wider consideration of the motivations and meaning of facial disfigurement in past societies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAntiquity
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 4 Feb 2020

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Cole, G., Ditchfield, P. W., Dulias, K., Edwards, C., Reynolds, A., & Waldron, T. (Accepted/In press). Summary justice or the King’s will? The first case of formal facial mutilation from Anglo-Saxon England. Antiquity.