Medieval black Briton found
- 2010/05/02 14:30:17
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A SKELETON uncovered in the ruins of a friary is the earliest physical evidence of a black person living in Britain in medieval times.
The remains of a man, found in the friary in Ipswich, Suffolk, which was destroyed by Henry VIII, have been dated to the 13th century.
It is the first solid indication that there were black people in Britain in the 1,000-year period between the departure of the Romans, who had African slaves, and the beginnings of the age of discovery in the 15th century.
The skull had African characteristics, and an isotopic analysis of the man’s teeth and thigh bone traced his roots to north Africa.
The man is thought to have been captured by a nobleman who brought him back from one of the last crusades in the 1270s. His burial on consecrated ground suggests he was either a Christian or had converted.
He predates by 150 years the three black people previously known to have lived in Britain. They were identified from tax records.
A team of experts for BBC2’s History Cold Case programme, to be broadcast at 9pm on Thursday, has had the body carbon dated to 1190-1300. They have created a full facial reconstruction based on the skull size and shape.
It is believed he may have been brought back from north Africa as a servant by Lord Tiptoth, who had founded the friary before joining the ninth crusade.
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