An ongoing archeological dig at the Skríðuklaustur cloister in Fljótsdalur recently uncovered a skeleton of a person who may have been afflicted with Paget’s disease, a severe deformity caused by excessive growth of bone tissue.
185 skeletons have so far been dug up at the site. Archeologist and project supervisor Steinunn Kristjánsdóttir told Vísir that they have already learned much about the old Skríðuklaustur. They know now, for example, that the cloister was a working hospital from 1490 to 1550 – making it the oldest in Iceland.
Finding a skeleton of a victim of Paget’s disease is a very rare find indeed. The disease itself is rare on a global scale, and only one other incidence of Paget’s has been found archeologically in Iceland.
“We have found many cases of syphilis and tuberculosis,” she told reporters, “but this case is different, in that the disease is marked by malformed and oversized bones.”
While not conclusive, an article from the Scientific American in 1995 speculates that the famous Viking Egil Skalla-Grímmsson may have himself had Paget’s.