The death of a medieval Danish warrior: A case of bone trauma interpretation

Eva Forsom, Lene Warner Thorup Boel, Bo Jaque, Lene Mollerup

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In 1934 a grave was found in the church ruins of the Cistercian Abbey at Øm in central Jutland, Denmark (founded in 1172, demolished
1561 AD). The grave contained the skeletal remains of an individual lying in a supine position with the head towards the west. The
anthropological analysis revealed that the remains belonged to a young male, aged 25-30 years at death and approximately 162.7
cm tall. He had 9 perimortem sharp force lesions, five of which were cranial and four were postcranial, indicating he suffered a violent
death in a swordfight.
This paper presents a detailed analysis and description of the individual lesions and their probable effect on the soft tissue, followed
by a suggestion for the most likely order of the blows which caused the lesions, and finally a tentative reconstruction of the battle
accompanied by photographs. This case illustrates both that forensic pathology can be very useful when applied to an archaeological
case and suggests that the forensic pathologist could benefit from examination of ancient cases when interpreting bone lesions in
modern cases.
Original languageEnglish
JournalScandinavian Journal of Forensic Science
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)13-20
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 22 Aug 2017


  • Medieval archaeology
  • Forensic case
  • Trauma
  • Osteologi

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