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Monday, September 14, 2015
Neolithic skeleton reveals early history of rickets
Rickets has been identified in a Neolithic skeleton from the Scottish island of Tiree, making it the earliest case of the disease in the UK, according to research announced at the British Science Festival in Bradford.
This is particularly surprising as the disease – caused by Vitamin D deficiency linked to lack of sunlight – is more commonly associated with the urban slums of Victorian Britain than with rural, farming communities, as existed in Neolithic Scotland. The nature of the grave itself – a simple burial rather than a chambered tomb – has raised questions as to how the woman, physically deformed by the disease, may have been treated by her community.
Professor Ian Armit from the University of Bradford explains: “The earliest case of rickets in Britain until now dated from the Roman period, but this discovery takes it back more than 3,000 years. There have been a few possible cases in other parts of the world that are around the same time, but none as clear cut as this. While we can’t say for certain that this is the earliest case in the world, it is definitely very unusual.