A Study of the Skeletons of Royal Navy Sailors and Marines excavated at the Royal Hospital Greenwich.

C. Boston, A. Witkin, A. Boyle, D. Wilkinson

Paperback. {157p, 18 figs, 30 pls, 22 tbls (Oxford Archaeology 2008). Publishers price € 15,60.

The Old Burial Ground of the Royal Hospital Greenwich (1749-1857) provided the resting place for a very Motley crew - the battered and worn out veterans of the Royal Navy of the Georgian period. Recent excavations in the cemetary by Oxford Archaeology revealed the coffined burials of over a hundred Greenwich Pensioners (the equivalent of the Chelsea Pensioners), who had ended their long and colourful lives at the Hospital. These were sailors and mariners that sailed and fought in Britain's numerous wars of the 18th century, many seeing action at such famous engagements as the Glorious First of June, Copenhagen, the Nile, and Trafalgar. The hazards and physical demands of their lives are clearly reflected in their skeletons, with fractures, infections, amputations, joint disease and scurvy being common. Osteological findings are interpreted in the light of rich documentary sources on the social history of the lowerdeck of Nelson's Navy, and form an invaluable alternative data set in reconstructing the extraordinary lives of these 'picked and brine pickled survivors'.

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