Left and right foot showing effects of leprosy

1250-1500 in Netherlands

Left and right foot showing effects of leprosy, from a skeleton from a medieval Danish leprosy cemetery, reputedly c.1350

The right and left feet show the devastating effects of leprosy on the bones of the body. This erosion and damage, caused by the decay of protective fatty tissue, does not occur in all cases.

These feet are believed to be from an adult female buried in a Danish leprosy cemetery attached to a leper hospital. Those with leprosy were social outcasts due to fear of catching the disfiguring disease and it appears the same happened in death. However, similar skeletal remains have been found in graveyards not attached to leper hospitals.

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Science Museum: Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries

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Related people


Anatomy & Pathology
Object Number:
bone, human remains and plexiglass
overall (with base): 15 mm x 301 mm x 298 mm, 1.83 kg
overall (right): 75 mm x 80 mm x 210 mm, 0.13 kg
overall (left): 77 mm x 80 mm x 230 mm, 0.14 kg
  • animal remains
Wellcome Trust

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