During the 14th Century, the Black Death ripped through Europe. It was a pivotal time during the Middle Ages. The town of Tadcaster, England was hit especially hard. It is here where multiple graves were found. There were no grave goods found. Who were these people? How did they die? Who was this person? What can this skeleton tell us about the Black Death in England? The run time for this documentary is 46:00.
The seventh-year after the Black Death began in Europe, it finally arrived in England. It began in the downs and ports and then made its way inland. The countryside was void of people. It soon swept through England. It arrived at the town of Tadcaster, in Yorkshire England. The average life expectancy was 30 years and everyone struggled with daily living. Life was a hand-to-mouth existence.
Tim Sutherland hints that people were living at a substance level. Even then, the poorest of the poor had to give any abundance to the higher-ups in society. The story then turns to the storage facilities where thousands and thousands of skeletons are kept. Many have not been examined when they were discovered. Today, some of those skeletons are undergoing an examination. These skeletons are going to reveal their secrets. It is surprising to discover that historians are still learning more about the Middle Ages.
Malin Holst is an osteoarcheologist who looks at skeletons. She is with the University of York. She talks about the skeletons in storage and plans on examining them. The skeletons reveal that there were a variety of diseases and the owner’s social status. Malin is often called in to examine the bones when discoveries are made. She establishes all the facts she can about the individuals. The skeletons are forwarded to specialists who work to find out what this person died from and even extract DNA.
Tadcaster had seen its share of history. There was a castle on the site. It had seen battles of the English Civil War. However, during the Black Death, it was a place of death. One local had heard about a grim discovery on the site of Castle Hill. Simon Richardson was entranced by the discovery and had an obsession with archeology. He had learned that there were skeletons found in a garden site. Twelve individuals were found on the site.
Simon went away from Tadcaster for a time and then come back. The castle site changed hands and when Simon returned, he was asked to clear the site. He discovered the site had become overgrown. He set to work to clear it. When he started clearing the site, he found another skeleton with a hole in the skull. Was this a victim of the battle? Did he flee from a battle? An excavation took place on the site and more skeletons were found. What was this site? Was this a cemetery? Why were these people buried on Castle Hill instead of being buried in the Church Cemetery?
The skeletons were buried oddly as if these were rushed burials. Some were buried in groups. Others were buried face down. There was a challenge to dating on the site. The skeletons were not buried with grave goods or anything to indicate a time frame. Simon and Tim walk the castle hill site and talk about the history of the site. What can the history of the site tell us about the graves? What can it tell us about the development of Tadcaster? Why was the castle hill site abandoned? Why were these bodies buried on the Hill? However, these simple questions are going to have some complicated answers.
Malin Holst works to examine the Tadcaster Skeletons, she is examining one of the skeletons. What will she discover about this skeleton? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out more about the skeleton.
Well, the build-up to the revelation that the skeleton was a woman was really slow. The background to the site could have been cut in half. I was going to share this documentary in March, but the build-up to the fact the skeleton was a woman gave me pause. That said, it would be an interesting view for a science class as well as a history class because this documentary was heavily influenced by the science behind history.
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