The Bodies in the ‘Bog’: A Multi-Isotope Investigation of Individual Life-Histories at an Unusual 6th/7th AD Century Group Burial from a Roman Latrine at Cramond, Scotland

Orsolya Czere* (Corresponding Author), John Lawson, Gundula Müldner, Jane Evans, Angela Boyle, Kate Britton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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This study utilises multi-isotope approaches to investigate early medieval diet and childhood origins of individuals interred in an unusual group burial from Lothian, Scotland. In 1976, the skeletal remains of nine adults and five infants were unearthed from the infill of a latrine of a bathhouse at the Roman fort at Cramond, Edinburgh. Originally thought to be later medieval (14(th)/15(th) century), but recently dated to the 6(th) century AD, these remains represent a rare opportunity to gain deeper insights into the dietary histories and lifetime mobility of the inhabitants of early medieval south-central Scotland. Bone and teeth from the adults (n=9) were sampled, along with local faunal bone from a range of species (n=12). Long-term dietary trends were explored using stable carbon (delta C-13), nitrogen (delta N-15) and sulphur (delta S-34) isotope analyses of bone collagen, focusing on inter-individual variability and the potential inclusion of marine protein in the diet. Sulphur (delta S-34) was also utilised as a possible indicator of later-life mobility. Strontium (Sr-87/Sr-86) and oxygen (delta O-18(CARB)) ratios of tooth enamel were employed to identify potential locals and non-locals, as well as possible locations of childhood origin. No intra-group dietary variability was detected, and the results are similar to other contemporary populations from southern Britain. The sulphur isotope data indicate that all of the individuals likely lived locally in their last few decades of life. However, based on isotopic data from tooth enamel, at least one or perhaps two of the individuals likely spent their childhoods in other locations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number67
Number of pages21
JournalArchaeological and Anthropological Sciences
Early online date24 Mar 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Open access via springer compact agreement.Funding for the isotopic research was provided to KB and OC by the City of Edinburgh Council the Development Trust Student Fund, University of Aberdeen. The Leverhume Trust (PLP-2019-284 to KB) and the AHRC (award ref: 1775362 to OC) provided financial support during the preparation of this manuscript.

Data Availability Statement

Data generated during this study are included in this manuscript.


  • Carbon
  • Nitrogen
  • Sulphur
  • Strontium
  • Oxygen
  • medieval
  • DIET


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