Medieval Lives

Exploring Paget’s Disease of Bone at Norton Priory, North West England

Principal Investigator: Professor Silvia Gonzalez from the School of Natural Sciences and Psychology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool.

A grant was awarded in 2017 for research at Liverpool John Moores University. The project aims to study Paget’s Disease of Bone within the Norton Priory Bone collection, Cheshire. An investigation identified that six male skeletons were severely affected with Paget’s disease, with over 75% of their skeleton affected. Additional analyses from a single tooth from each skeleton have indicated that these skeletons are Medieval in age (1150-1395 AD), that the population had a predominantly marine-based diet, and were originally from the north‑west of England. Since these analyses, new research has continued to explore the remaining Norton bone collection, consisting of a total of 130 individuals. Currently, a further 22 skeletons have been identified presenting skeletal lesions typical of Paget’s disease. This is a remarkably high occurrence of Paget’s (21.5%), compared to any other UK archaeological site. For this new investigation, ten of the 22 skeletons with Paget’s disease have been selected for full osteological examination including radiographic and micro-CT imaging, radiocarbon dating, paleodiet assessment and the determination of geographical origin. This research will also make a comparison of medieval bone affected by Paget’s disease with affected modern bone, to identify any similarities or differences. Overall, the new data will contribute to our understanding of the prevalence and nature of medieval Paget’s disease at Norton Priory and the development of the condition through time.


Further information including the latest research paper regarding Norton Priory, can be found here and specially produced for Paget's Awareness Day 2020, this exciting Research documentary below explores the latest findings from Norton Priory and interviews the researchers.


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