The Woman and Three Babies; AD 70-100; 1989.178.2

From

NHerts

Name/Title

The Woman and Three Babies

About 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 .

Date Made

AD 70-100

Period

Roman (AD 43-411)

Medium and Materials

Ecofacts | Human bone

Collection

Letchworth Museum

Credit Line

Excavated from land belonging originally to Hertfordshire County Council but at the time of excavation by Barratt Homes (Luton) Ltd.

Object Type

Human remains

Object number

1989.178.2

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

This object is from

NHerts   NHerts

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