Belfast Telegraph

Leprosy 'was brought to Ireland by the Vikings'

Until now, little was known of how the infectious disease made its way to Ireland (stock photo)
Until now, little was known of how the infectious disease made its way to Ireland (stock photo)

By Conor McCrave

New research into the skeletal remains of five bodies has suggested the Vikings were responsible for bringing leprosy to Ireland.

Until now, little was known of how the infectious disease made its way to Ireland.

But a new study by researchers at Queen's University Belfast and academics in the UK, has indicated it could have come from Scandinavia with the Vikings during the 9th century.

Five bodies were excavated - three from Dublin, and one each from Kildare and Antrim - and the remains were tested for leprosy bacterium, from which a number of strains were identified.

Professor Eileen Murphy, from the School of Natural and Built Environment at Queen's University said the study shone a light on the legacy of the Vikings in Ireland.

She said relatively little is known of leprosy in Medieval Ireland, adding: "This study has revealed that despite its location on the western extremity of Europe, Ireland and, certainly, Dublin was not isolated."

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