California Cemetery, Baldock

Site Code: BAL 1
Grid reference: TL 253 338

The California Cemetery, Baldock, Hertfordshire is also known as the Upper Walls Common Cemetery. It was excavated between 1980 and 1985 by North Hertfordshire District Council. The site was occupied between c. 200 and 550 AD. Two late Iron Age burials, dating to the 1st century BC were also excavated at this site.

Baldock 1203

Age: Young Middle Adult (26 - 35 years)
Sex: Male
Burial Position: supine and extended, southwest-northeast aligned

Pathology: A portion of the spinous processes of the seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebrae have become detached from the remainder of the vertebrae. In both cases, a pseudarthrosis, or false joint, is present between the fractured part of the spinous process and the rest of the process, indicating that the spinous processes had fractured and not healed. This type of avulsion fracture is often referred to as a ‘clay shoveller’s fracture’. A single clay shoveller’s fracture is more common than the double clay shoveller’s fracture seen here.

This individual had also sustained a fracture to the right clavicle. This was well healed; however, it had disrupted the costoclavicular ligament, indicated by a wide, deep rhomboid fossa.

Baldock 1203 skull
Image 1:
Anterior view of skull. This individual was a robust male with prominent gonial flaring.

Bladock 1203 vertebrae
Image 2:
Seventh cervical and first thoracic vertebrae with clay shoveller's fractures. Both of the small spinous processes, which have fractured off the vertebrae, were recovered during the excavation.

References: Knüsel, C.J., Roberts, C.A., and Boylston, A. 1996 When Adam Delved... An activity-related lesion in three human skeletal populations. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 100: 427-434

Last Updated:15 October 2007