The Woman and Three Babies; AD 70-100; 1989.178.2
The Woman and Three BabiesAbout this object
The skeleton of an adult woman (aged about 40) with three foetuses aged about eight months: one stillborn, one in the birth canal and one in the womb. They were found in a grave aligned north-north-west to south-south-east at Stane Street, Baldock; the woman was laid on her right side with her head to the south-south-east and the lower body twisted so that the legs were parallel and facing down, with a slight angle at the knees. The right arm lay beneath the body and the hand lay beneath the left hip, while the left arm was bent 90° at the elbow, the hand pointing away from the body. The foetus in the south-western corner of the grave appeared to have been laid in a supine position, with head to the south-south-east, with the legs flexed towards the west. The remaining foetuses were less well preserved, making an assessment of their positions difficult.
This unusual burial suggests that it contained a mother and her three stillborn infants. Multiple births were frequently difficult in the ancient world (the Classical Roman name Gemellus recording a successfully born twin) and it is likely that there were considerable complications with the birth of these three premature babies, the second of which may have been in a breach position. This is the earliest known case of triplets in the world and was the subject of a BBC television programme in the series History Cold Case .
Roman (AD 43-411)Medium and Materials
Ecofacts | Human boneCollection
Letchworth MuseumCredit Line
Excavated from land belonging originally to Hertfordshire County Council but at the time of excavation by Barratt Homes (Luton) Ltd.Object Type
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