Merovingian skeletons and sarcophagi at Saint-Léger (prov. Luxembourg)
Human remains in and around two sarcophagi were found in 2014 and 2016 in Saint-Léger, a village of the South of Belgium.
Denis Henrotay, archaeologist and one of the external directors of the Archaeology Service (Public Service of Wallonia, DGO4, Heritage department), and his team excavated the burial and its surrounding in a rescue process that took no more than 3 days!
A fibula and a knife date back the two skeletons to the 7th century, i.e. the final part of the Merovingian period.
A heap of bones was also found next to each sarcophagus, at the level of the lid. This funerary treatment, called a reduction, consists in removing a previous body from the sarcophagus and placing it on the side, in order to lay down a more recent deceased.
Anthropological analysis counted minimum 5 individuals : 4 skeletons and a few supernumerary bones. The skeletons were relatively old adults, women and men. One had a little benign tumor (ivory osteoma) on the parietal and another exhibits healed fractures to the ribs. More details to be published.
© Avenir du Luxembourg
© H. Déom
*Henrotay D. et Déom H., 2014. Le cimetière mérovingien de Saint-Léger, Chronique des Musées Gaumais, p. 5-9.
*Henrotay D. et Déom H., 2015. Le cimetière mérovingien de Saint-Léger (Lux), Archaeologia Mediaevalis - Chronique 38, p. 124-126.
*Déom H., 2015. Études anthropologiques des sépultures mérovingiennes de Saint-Léger et du cimetière médiéval de Virton. In Frébutte C. (dir.), Pré-Actes des Journées d'Archéologie en Wallonie, Rochefort 2015, Namur : éd. Service public de Wallonie (Rapports, Archéologie, 1), p. 75-76.
Author: Hélène Déom, freelance physical anthropologist & archaeologist (Prov. Luxembourg)
Gratitude for the archaeologists' gentle, effective and quick field work was expressed by the owners of the house, their parents, colleagues and students from the Athénée Royale de Neufchâteau-Bertrix... in the shape of a sarcophagus cake with its skeleton... How creative!