Archive for 09/04/2011

Nick Collins –

Sailors in Admiral Nelson’s navy were plagued by scurvy, ridden with syphilis and often mutilated by amputations but only a minority were from lowest social class, Oxford University archaeologists have found.

An examination of 340 skeletons from three 18th and 19th century Royal Navy graveyards found that a “surprisingly high” proportion suffered from scurvy and infected wounds.

The bones, excavated from sites in Greenwich, Gosport and Plymouth, also found that more than six per cent of sailors in Nelson’s navy, were amputees, many of whom died as a result of operations that went wrong.

But despite uncovering evidence of syphilis, ulcers, serious tooth infections and possible malaria among the remains of the seamen, researchers said evidence indicated that only a minority came from the lowest rung of the social ladder.

The unprecedented scientific investigation into life below decks for Nelson’s men, by researchers from Oxford and Cranfield Universities, will be broadcast tomorrow evening (SUN) in a Channel Four documentary, Nelson’s Navy: Back From the Dead.

Full story…