Burial of a man with a stone in his mouth discovered

A Roman burial found at Stanwick near the river Nene, Northamptonshire, United Kingdom, revealed a skeleton facing down with a flat stone wedged into the mouth. The burial dates to the 3rd or 4th century AD.

Close-up of the skull with the stone visible between the teeth (by Historic England)

The skeleton was found on a site of a Roman Era graveyard, discovered in 1991 but under archaeological investigation only since this recent. The cemetery held 35 people. The skull of the individual was originally lifted by archaeologists in a soil block in 1991, and fully analysed in controlled conditions. Analysis of  the skeleton revealed that the bones belonged to a man that died in his 30s. According to the researchers the fact that the individual is buried face down in the grave is consistent with somebody whose behaviour marked them out as odd or threatening within a community. Archaeologists believe that the unique find is a sign of mutilation – the individuals tongue was cut and replaced by a flat stone wedge. What gives them the idea that the tongue was amputated are other burials from Roman Britain where missing body parts in the grave are replaced by objects at the appropriate anatomical location.

The skeleton buried facing ground (by Historic England)

(after The Guardian & Historic England)

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