The visage of a woman from the seventh century has been recreated by a forensic artist in the UK. The young woman may have been a member of the nobility and one of early Christians in England, according to researchers.
The girl, who was only 16 when she passed away, was buried close to Cambridge. This burial was not a typical one. The woman was buried on a bed while wearing a complex gold and garnet cross that archaeologists refer to as the Trumpington Cross after the nearby town. The woman was a Christian, as evidenced by the cross (one of only five known), and her ornate bed burial revealed that she was a member of the aristocracy or possibly royalty. There have only been 18 such graves discovered.
She must have been aware of her importance and the burden it placed on her. Her isotopic readings are consistent with those of two other women who were similarly buried on beds in Cambridgeshire during this time period, according to bioarchaeologist Sam Leggett.
The woman arrived in England at some point after turning seven, according to the isotope testing. She came from central Europe, perhaps close to the Alps in southern Germany. She finally made her home in Cambridgeshire, one of the flattest counties in the UK.
Leggett said, “She was probably quite ill and she travelled a long way to somewhere completely foreign…it must have been frightening.”
The tests showed that once she relocated to England, her diet underwent a little but substantial change. Her diet’s declining protein content may have contributed to her early demise.
Uncovering a 1,300-year-old face
This week, the picture of the lady created by forensic artist Hew Morrison is on exhibit at Cambridge’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
“It was intriguing to watch the changes in her expression. Her left eye was a fraction of a centimetre lower than her right eye. In real life, this would have been fairly obvious, according to Morrison.
Without DNA testing, it is impossible to determine the woman’s eye or hair colour. But scientists think the picture provides a “strong indication” of how she looked just before she passed away.