Laureen Buckley

In the summer of 1998 James Eogan directed an excavation at Bettystown, Co. Meath on behalf of Archaeological Development Services Ltd. The site lies on a slight ridge close to the beach and is adjacent to an area where a group of Bronze and Iron Age burials had been excavated in the 1970's. The excavations revealed a cluster of Bronze Age short cist burials, three of which contained decorated pots. The cists contained juvenile burials but there was a pit burial of an older male accompanied by a male cremation.

Another part of the cemetery contained around 60 burials mainly in long cists which have not been C14 dated but are of a type belonging to the first millenium A. D. These burials were made up of 69% adults and 31% juveniles. Although most of the skeletons were relatively complete and undisturbed the preservation was poor with the outer cortex of the bones decayed and many of the joint ends fragmented.

The preparation of the skeletal report is ongoing but two skeletons with particularly interesting features were noted here with an appeal for information.

Skeletal 1 was a partial skeleton, probably a male, with a number of calcifications in the pelvic area. These were spherical in shape and of various sizes. It is suggested that they may be bladder stones but internally seem to consist of crystalline material and do not have the distinct laminated structure as noted by Steinbock. A chemical analysis of these 'stones' may help determine their nature and if any one knows of a laboratory which may be able to do this please write to me at the above address.

Skeleton 2 is that of a juvenile aged between 2 and 4 years. Upon excavation it was immediately noticed that the crown of the head appeared to be very flat. The head also appeared to be larger than expected for the body size but this effect was exaggerated as the feet and distal ends of the tibia were missing. Examination revealed that the lamboid
suture had started to fuse but the sagittal suture was open. There also appeared to be some slight indentations on the internal surface of the frontal bone suggesting pressure from the brain. The metopic suture was unfused. The only other condition noted was severe cribra orbitalia in both orbits.

Any suggestions as to any condition or syndrome which would give rise to this flat- headed appearance of the skull would be very welcome

The Bettystown child.