Gruesome medieval discoveries go on show

Excavated skeletons and other medieval bone material showing a range of diseases including leprosy will form part of a new exhibition.

The archaeological findings – including the skeleton of a medieval woman with leprosy – reveal new information about how people lived, died and were medically treated in the Middle Ages.

The exhibits which reveal York’s gruesome medical history will form part of York Archaeological Trust’s new Plague, Poverty and Prayer exhibition at Barley Hall, York, which opens on Sunday, March 31.

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Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at York Archaeological Trust, said: “The woman’s skeleton was excavated from the medieval graveyard at St Stephen’s Church that once lay on the Dixon’s Yard site just off Walmgate in York city centre.

“We recently commissioned a pathology report on the skeleton, which used new scientific techniques, and the results will be unveiled at the exhibition.

“Other bone material excavated from sites around York including Hungate, Bedern and the former St Leonard’s Hospital help us to explore living conditions for the people of York during medieval times, focusing specifically on medical care, cures, illnesses, diseases and folklore.

“Visitors to the exhibition will see a cyst that has been removed from a stomach, a growth (neoplasm) on a jaw, an infected vertebrae, degenerative joint disease and broken bones.”

The new exhibition also includes a special contribution from Horrible Histories author Terry Deary plus costumes, clips and quotes from the BBC TV series.