Ancient bones under Lewes school may be warrior

Monks from Lewes Priory may have treated the medieval warrior

Monks from Lewes Priory may have treated the medieval warrior

First published in News
Last updated
by , Senior Reporter

Mysterious bones found under a school could belong to a medieval warrior who died in battle.

Archaeologists believe the skeleton could belong to a soldier who fell during the Battle of Lewes in 1264.

Now the ancient remains have been sent to experts at the University of York who will attempt to solve the puzzle.

The skeleton, known as 180, was one of 123 sets of remains found in a medieval cemetery when Western Road School was demolished.

The site was once the home of the Hospital of St Nicholas, which was run in medieval times by monks from Lewes Priory.

Most of the skeletons show signs of leprosy and other medieval diseases, but Skeleton 180 is different.

The skull has been hacked with a sword and was buried near Lewes Prison, close to where the most brutal fighting happened during the famous battle nearly 750 years ago.

Edwina Livesey, a Battle of Lewes officer for Sussex Archaeological Society, said the discovery was “incredible”.

She said: “It would be amazing if we could narrow it down far enough to suggest he was at the Battle of Lewes.

“The top of his skull has been sliced off with a sword. He also had terrible tooth decay and would have been in permanent pain.

Battle of Lewes

“We’ll be looking for signs of slashes to the back of his legs because they were often hit with battleaxes while they were running away.

“But this is also very moving, because this was a real man with a real story, and it looks like he died in a truly horrific way.”

After the Battle of Lewes, most of the dead were hastily buried by local people just yards away.

More than 1,000 were found by Victorian road builders working on the Brighton to Lewes turnpike 600 years later.

Thousand dead

However, none of these bones remain above ground – and there are still believed to be more than 1,000 skeletons from the battle buried beneath the town.

At the University of York, experts will carbon date the skeleton and will attempt to discover what he ate and how he lived.

Microscopic analysis will also reveal whether he lived for a time after he was injured, explaining why he may have been taken to hospital.

Ms Livesey said: “We’re still some way off from confirming he was a soldier at the Battle of Lewes.

“But I think it would be fantastic for the town if it turns out to be true.”

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Comments (8)

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4:19pm Mon 29 Apr 13

nosolution says...

I would be sure that the 'soldier' wouldn't of lived for a time after death!(3rd to last para.) very interesting article though just goes to show that there's a lot of history buried under our feet...
I would be sure that the 'soldier' wouldn't of lived for a time after death!(3rd to last para.) very interesting article though just goes to show that there's a lot of history buried under our feet... nosolution
  • Score: 0

4:20pm Mon 29 Apr 13

Ashles says...

"The top of his skull has been sliced off with a sword. He also had terrible tooth decay and would have been in permanent pain. "

His nickname was unlikely to have been 'Lucky'...
"The top of his skull has been sliced off with a sword. He also had terrible tooth decay and would have been in permanent pain. " His nickname was unlikely to have been 'Lucky'... Ashles
  • Score: 0

4:29pm Mon 29 Apr 13

Ashles says...

"Microscopic analysis will also reveal whether he lived for a time after death, explaining why he may have been taken to hospital. "

If he lived for a while after death there might be a few more things that require explaining...
"Microscopic analysis will also reveal whether he lived for a time after death, explaining why he may have been taken to hospital. " If he lived for a while after death there might be a few more things that require explaining... Ashles
  • Score: 0

12:57am Tue 30 Apr 13

Nellie's Grandson says...

Lived for a time after death?? I suppose its possible given that he hails from Lewes
Lived for a time after death?? I suppose its possible given that he hails from Lewes Nellie's Grandson
  • Score: 0

1:02am Tue 30 Apr 13

Nellie's Grandson says...

I do not normally comment about shoddy Argus reporting but the more I think about some idiot writing about someone possibly living for a time after they are dead has caused me to laugh more than the trash they have put on TV described as comedy and has brought a tear to my eye. Thank you Bill Gardner for making my day.
I do not normally comment about shoddy Argus reporting but the more I think about some idiot writing about someone possibly living for a time after they are dead has caused me to laugh more than the trash they have put on TV described as comedy and has brought a tear to my eye. Thank you Bill Gardner for making my day. Nellie's Grandson
  • Score: 0

7:18am Tue 30 Apr 13

macdragon says...

How very exciting it will be to discover that this person is a fallen warrior.
What a tale he might have had to tell!
Discoveries like this always open windows to the past which I find most fascinating!
Hope to read more about the "fallen warrior" in the future.
How very exciting it will be to discover that this person is a fallen warrior. What a tale he might have had to tell! Discoveries like this always open windows to the past which I find most fascinating! Hope to read more about the "fallen warrior" in the future. macdragon
  • Score: 0

7:40am Tue 30 Apr 13

Bill_Gardner says...

Probably the most stupid sentence I have ever written. Thanks for bringing it my attention.
Probably the most stupid sentence I have ever written. Thanks for bringing it my attention. Bill_Gardner
  • Score: 0

3:16pm Tue 30 Apr 13

Roundbill says...

Bill_Gardner wrote:
Probably the most stupid sentence I have ever written. Thanks for bringing it my attention.
Bill, we all love you - don't go changing ;)
[quote][p][bold]Bill_Gardner[/bold] wrote: Probably the most stupid sentence I have ever written. Thanks for bringing it my attention.[/p][/quote]Bill, we all love you - don't go changing ;) Roundbill
  • Score: 0

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