London (CNN)Social inequality was "recorded on the bones" of the medieval residents of Cambridge, England, a new study of hundreds of sets of human remains in the city has revealed.
Researchers studied the remains of more than 300 individuals from a variety of social backgrounds, buried in three different city cemeteries from the 10th to the 14th centuries.
The team from the University of Cambridge examined bones from a parish graveyard for working people, a charitable hospital where the ill and destitute were laid to rest, and a friary for the wealthy, detailing every break and fracture to create a barometer of social inequality.
X-ray analysis of the bones revealed varying levels of hardship -- accident, occupational injury or violence -- across the social spectrum.
Of the three sites, remains excavated at the Hospital of St. John the Evangelist -- a 12th-century house for the needy -- contained the fewest fractures. Many residents had skeletal evidence of chronic illnesses like tuberculosis, and would have been unable to work.
Some 44% of working people had bone fractures, compared with 32% of tho