Escaping the Famine? – Irish in Britain Seminar Series

Dear friends and colleagues,

This year’s Irish in Britain Seminar Series concludes next Thursday 5th December (see details below).

If you would like to register to attend the seminar, you can do so at the following link:

Natasha Powers, MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology)
Escaping the Famine? Skeletal evidence for the health of Irish migrants in mid-nineteenth century London

 In 2004, MOLA started work on the excavation of an archaeologically unusual and historically interesting cemetery associated with the Catholic mission of St Mary and St Michael, Whitechapel. The cemetery was in use for just 11 years from 1843-1854, spanning the period of mass migration from Ireland, precipitated by the Potato Famine. Biographic evidence from coffin plates suggested that the majority of those buried were of Irish extraction. The subsequent programme of osteological analysis, coupled with stable isotope studies of samples of bone, teeth and hair, provided a fascinating insight into the health of the living population, particularly in regards to infants and the possible influence of migration on health status. Meanwhile, evidence of clothing enabled investigation of differences in burial practices between this and the populations interred in commercial cemeteries and those of other denominations. The human remains also revealed a perhaps surprising indicator of cultural affiliation, pipe smoking. This talk will outline the results of MOLA’s work and the picture of life in east London that it provides us with.

Natasha Powers has been employed in commercial archaeology since 1996 and has worked on sites across the UK and Ireland as both a field archaeologist and human osteologist. As the latter she has worked with everything from prehistoric cremation burials to 19th century parish cemeteries, examining thousands of inhumations and more than 200 cremation burials. Natasha is Head of Osteology and Research Coordinator at MOLA where she manages the human osteology, zooarchaeology and botany teams, and is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham and University of Bradford.

6.30 – 8pm

Thursday 5th December

Room TM138

Tower Building

London Metropolitan University

166-220 Holloway Rd

London N7 8DB