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An Anglo-Saxon girl had her nose and lips cut off as punishment, the skull shows


Skull analysis showed that the girl, who was thought to be between 15 and 18 at the time of her death, had her nose and lips cut off, and she could also have been sculpted as part of her sentence.

The team of researchers from University College London (UCL) believes she died shortly after receiving the wounds, as the remains showed no evidence of healing.

Using radiocarbon dating, the researchers were able to estimate that the remains date back to 776 and 899 AD.

“This case appears to be the first archaeological example of this particularly brutal form of facial deformity known to Anglo-Saxon England,” the UCL team said in a press release on the findings, published in Antiquity magazine.

The case preceded all previously known historical records of such convictions by nearly a century, the study said, and is the first physical evidence to support those who had shown written records.

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The brutally beaten cranium was found at a site in the southern English town of Basingstoke in the 1960s, excavated shortly before the site was developed into a residential property.

Decades after the discovery, researchers completely analyzed the disfigured skull. They found that the victim suffered several facial injuries at the time of her death, including a cut across her mouth that removed her lips and a cut on her forehead – suggesting an attempt at scalp.

She suffered a “cut through her nose that went so deep that she cut the surrounding bone,” according to the press release.

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Codes of law from the Anglo-Saxon period – which lasted from the withdrawal of the Romans from Britain in 410 AD until Norman invasion in 1066 – show that punishments like these were given to adulterers and slaves caught stealing.

Although researchers were able to determine the manner in which she died, very little is known about the woman.

Researchers found no evidence that she was buried in a normal cemetery, suggesting that she was buried as an exile.

This in itself may have been a punishment, as deportation was also a common punishment in Anglo-Saxon England.

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