Tall Tales

Tall Tales

Sunday, September 24, 2006
| Mark 9:30-37

Medieval people were short people. That’s what we’ve been led to believe. But there’s evidence it’s not true. Which leads us to the question: “How tall are we?”

Back in the 1300s, the soldier known as the Black Prince was a giant on English battlefields. But when he got off his horse, he was a shrimp.

Likewise with King Henry V, who led English forces some 50 years later: He cast a long shadow as a soldier, but not so long when merely a man standing in the sun; he was a little guy.

Actually, for a long time, we’ve assumed that the Black Prince and Henry V were typical of their peers, that most of the people from history were shorter than we are. We’ve based that assumption on things like the small doorways found in ancient dwellings and the small suits of clothing and armor on display in museums.

It turns out, however, that we’ve been mistaken. According to research conducted by two British archaeologists, Charlotte Roberts and Margaret Cox, the height discrepancy between earlier generations and our own is a tall tale. The researchers made this determination by analyzing skeletons from a cemetery at the medieval village of...

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