Title: The Effects of Socioeconomic Status on Female Health at St. Benet Sherehog
Program: Master of Arts in Anthropology
Advisor: Dr. Cheryl Anderson, Anthropology
Committee Members: Dr. Kristin Snopkowski, Anthropology; and Dr. Allison Wolfe, Anthropology
This research investigates the impacts of socioeconomic status on female health at three pre-industrial burial sites in London, England. The analysis compares the female skeletal sample from the parish burial of St. Benet Sherehog (SB), a high-status site, to the cemeteries at the ‘New Churchyard’ at Broadgate (BG) and St. Thomas Hospital (ST), both representing low-socioeconomic status sites during the 17th century. Data for St. Thomas Hospital was made available by the Museum of London’s Wellcome Osteological Research Database and was compared with published data for St. Benet Sherehog and Broadgate to test the hypothesis that women at St. Benet Sherehog exhibited better health outcomes during this period.
Most of the results for the pathologies included in this study did not differ between the high-status and low-status samples; however, two differed significantly (p <0.05) for St. Benet Sherehog (n=57) when compared to the combination of the other two low-status sites, St. Thomas Hospital and Broadgate (n=59). The pathologies that are significantly different are the following: dental caries (SB= 40%, ST/BG= 66%; p <0.009) and non-specific infections (SB= 61%, ST/BG= 34% frequency; p <0.005). This suggests that socioeconomic status did not impact most of the pathological conditions examined for the three sites included in the study. Though most of the results were not statistically significant, these results and historical records provide insight into what life was like in London during the Stuart period.