The health of Iron Age Britons

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by Trustees of the British Museum
published on 03 August 2011

It is likely that many people in Iron Age Britain would have died from diseases as babies or children. Many of those people who survived to be adults rarely lived beyond the ages of 35-45. Only about a third of all adults lived longer. Studies of the bones of Iron Age people suggest that at least a quarter suffered from arthritis in their backs from an early age. This was probably due to the hard work needed on Iron Age farms. Some women also suffered arthritis in the leg joints caused by squatting for long periods.

People's teeth were often bad, and in general women's teeth were less healthy than men's. This was, perhaps, the result of calcium deficiency due to the effects of pregnancy. In some parts of Britain the diet was poor, leading to anaemia in up to half of all children and a quarter of all adults.

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