Of the 8 wounds to the head, the first 5 were probably not lethal. Battle of Towton, 1461.

The soldier, now known as Towton 25, had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.

Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal.

The next one almost certainly was. From behind him someone swung a blade towards his skull, carving a down-to-up trajectory through the air. The blow opened a huge horizontal gash into the back of his head—picture a slit you could post an envelope through. Fractures raced down to the base of his skull and around the sides of his head. Fragments of bone were forced in to Towton 25’s brain, felling him.

Archeologists investigating the mass grave found more than 40 individuals, 28 of whom were complete skeletons. The skeletons had clearly been the victims of great violence. The location of the bodies, and subsequent carbon-dating, linked them conclusively to the battle of Towton, March 29th, 1461, when an estimated 75 to 100,000 men took to the field and 28,000 died.

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