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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Intentional facial disfigurement is documented in archaeological contexts around the world. Here, the authors present the first archaeological evidence for intentional facial mutilation from Anglo-Saxon England—comprising the removal of the nose, upper lip and possible scalping—inflicted upon a young adult female. The injuries are consistent with documented punishments for female offenders. Although such mutilations do not appear in the written record until the tenth century AD, the instance reported here suggests that the practice may have emerged a century earlier. This case is examined in the context of a wider consideration of the motivations and significance of facial disfigurement in past societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1263-1277
Number of pages15
JournalAntiquity
Volume94
Issue number377
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2020

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