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Heights across the last 2,000 years in England

Heights across the last 2,000 years in England
Heights across the last 2,000 years in England
This chapter uses a dataset of heights calculated from the femurs of skeletal remains to explore the development of stature in England across the last two millennia. We find that heights increased during the Roman period and then steadily fell during the ‘Dark Ages’ in the early medieval period. At the turn of the first millennium heights grew rapidly, but after 1200 they started to decline coinciding with the agricultural depression, the Great Famine and the Black Death. Then they recovered to reach a plateau which they maintained for almost 300 years, before falling on the eve of industrialisation. The data show that average heights in England in the early nineteenth century were comparable to those in Roman times, and that average heights reported between 1400 and 1700 were similar to those of the twentieth century. The article also discusses the association of heights across time with some potential determinants and correlates (real wages, inequality, food supply, climate change and expectation of life), showing that in the long run heights change with these variables, and that in certain periods, notably the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the associations are observable over the shorter run as well. We also examine potential biases surrounding the use of skeletal remains.
England, Health, Height, History, Skeletal remains, Well-being
0363-3268
67-98
Galofré-Vilà, Gregori
5e967b32-7743-4a19-b074-f4e510641a87
Hinde, Andrew
0691a8ab-dcdb-4694-93b4-40d5e71f672d
Guntupalli, Aravinda Meera
1a135cb0-54e2-4dda-ab9b-0806d75cfcf2
Galofré-Vilà, Gregori
5e967b32-7743-4a19-b074-f4e510641a87
Hinde, Andrew
0691a8ab-dcdb-4694-93b4-40d5e71f672d
Guntupalli, Aravinda Meera
1a135cb0-54e2-4dda-ab9b-0806d75cfcf2

Galofré-Vilà, Gregori, Hinde, Andrew and Guntupalli, Aravinda Meera (2018) Heights across the last 2,000 years in England. Research in Economic History, 34, 67-98. (doi:10.1108/S0363-326820180000034003).

Record type: Article

Abstract

This chapter uses a dataset of heights calculated from the femurs of skeletal remains to explore the development of stature in England across the last two millennia. We find that heights increased during the Roman period and then steadily fell during the ‘Dark Ages’ in the early medieval period. At the turn of the first millennium heights grew rapidly, but after 1200 they started to decline coinciding with the agricultural depression, the Great Famine and the Black Death. Then they recovered to reach a plateau which they maintained for almost 300 years, before falling on the eve of industrialisation. The data show that average heights in England in the early nineteenth century were comparable to those in Roman times, and that average heights reported between 1400 and 1700 were similar to those of the twentieth century. The article also discusses the association of heights across time with some potential determinants and correlates (real wages, inequality, food supply, climate change and expectation of life), showing that in the long run heights change with these variables, and that in certain periods, notably the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the associations are observable over the shorter run as well. We also examine potential biases surrounding the use of skeletal remains.

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Heights across 2000 years - Accepted Manuscript
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 30 January 2018
e-pub ahead of print date: 22 August 2018
Published date: 22 August 2018
Keywords: England, Health, Height, History, Skeletal remains, Well-being

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 418382
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/418382
ISSN: 0363-3268
PURE UUID: 70d93e58-ffdd-493e-9564-288e66929595
ORCID for Andrew Hinde: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8909-9152

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 06 Mar 2018 17:30
Last modified: 26 Nov 2021 05:59

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Contributors

Author: Gregori Galofré-Vilà
Author: Andrew Hinde ORCID iD
Author: Aravinda Meera Guntupalli

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