The Bones of the Moorish Noble of Medieval England – Oguejiofo Annu
Researchers finally announced news of a 13th century skeleton of a black African Moorish noble unearthed on the grounds of a friary since 1990s. The physical evidence that Africans lived in England even in the medieval times shook up the academic world and spawned anxieties about the implication of this evidence on the faslely constructed historical framework foisted on the world by scholars of the western establishment.
Forensics experts at the University of Dundee Scotland say that the bones most likely belonged to a man from Northern Africa, probably modern-day Tunisia who spent about a decade living in England before he died.
The man was identified as African by studying his skeleton and the historical record of the friary where he was buried.
He appeared to have been an influential and pre-eminent person in the society judging by his burial on consecreted grounds of a friary. Only priesthood, nobles and royalties were buried in holy grounds in medieval England. His body was unearthed in a royal cemetary. Friary records confirmed that indeed there lived an influential and noble black African Moor in that establishment at that time.
According to Xanthe Mallett, an expert at the Center for Anatomy and Human Identification in Dundee bone structure and skeletal features can help determine a persons place of origin as much as the colour of his skin. She said the size of the nasal bone or the shape of the orbits differed depending on whether skeletons were European or African.
Researchers were able to pin the man to Tunisia, using isotope analysis, a technique which looks at the mix of elements that build up in a person’s teeth, bones or other tissues. Since people from different areas tend to accumulate such elements in different ways, analysis of their remains can sometimes pinpoint where they grew up, where they lived or even their diet. Each area has a different isotopic signature.
Scholars speculate on how the man would have made his way from Tunisia to Ipswich, the southeast England town where his skeleton was unearthed in the 1990s.
The BBC’s “History Cold Case” programme, which is publicising the finding, suggested that he may come into England with the returning crusaders, during the Crusades.
Historians like Mallett and Bolton however hypothesised that this man was one of those African Moors who might have entered into England from their base in Spain. He could have conceivably come through Spain, parts of which were then under African Moorish Moslem rule.
His burial on consecrated ground suggests that not only must he have converted to Christianity, he may have gone on to become a respected member of society.
According to Mallett, “He would have had to be of some note to be buried in the friary.”
Associated Press May 3, 2010.