It had been believed the man, in his late forties, died from natural causes but the recent research by Shirley Curtis-Summers of the University of Liverpool reveals the man was killed by a single sword blow to the upper back seems to have sliced through several vertebrae and would have caused terrible damage to the muscles and nerves in the man’s back. Curtis-Summers adds that it would have been a mortal wound, but one that may have left him alive for several hours, yet unable to walk.
While the wound may have been caused in battle, Mike Loades an expert on medieval weapons and television show host, explains “it seems almost inconceivable that a wound of this nature could be caused to anyone wearing armour. The slice would have had to cut through the armour for the entire length of the wound. This is not possible which suggests this wound was not received in battle. The possible scenarios that first occur to me are: assault by robbers or caught out, unarmoured, in an attack on his home or a private affray or murder.”
The fact that the body was buried in a prominent place in the nave of Norton Priory’s church in a stone coffin with a lid bearing two carved shields also gives historians an idea on who the man was. Lynn Smith, curator of Norton Priory adds, “One character stands out as a strong possibility for being the occupant of this prestigious grave. That is Geoffrey Dutton, son of Adam de Dutton. We know he was born about AD 1170 and from skeletal evidence that he was 48 or over when he died.”
“I’ve also discovered that Geoffrey along with his father Adam also commissioned a very significant medieval floor tile which we have put on display here. But there is still very much we don’t know.”
Norton Priory, located in Cheshire, England, flourished between the 12th to 16th centuries. Since the 1970s the site has undergone extensive archaeological research, revealing hundreds of artefacts and offering much evidence about life in a medieval monastery.
The skeleton will be back on display at Norton Priory Museum from 23rd October 2012.
Source: Norton Priory