Lady Isabel German was an anchoress who lived in York during the 15th century. A group of researchers at the University of Sheffield led by ostheoarchaeologist Dr. Lauren McIntiry believe that they have identified her remains.
An anchoress, according to the Catholic Dictionary, is
In medieval language a woman hermit. Also called ancress, it is commonly applied to women who have renounced the world to spend their lives in penance, prayer, and solitude. (Etym. Latin fem. of anchorita, variant of anchoreta; from Greek anakhoretes, “one who withdraws [from the world],” from anakhorein, to withdraw: ana-, back, + rhorein, to make room.)
The study, called The All Saints Anchoress? An Osteobiography, was published in Medieval Archaeology and co-authored by Lauren McIntyre, Lauren Kancle, Janet Montgomery, Joanna Moore, Darren R. Gröcke, and Geoff M. Nowell.
It explains how the team examined a collection of 667 skeletons discovered at York’s Barbican during excavations held in 2007. All these remains are now preserved at the University of Sheffield.
A particular skeleton, referred to as Skeleton SK3870, was found inside All Saints Church in Fishergate. It belonged to a medieval woman, buried in a tightly crouched position within the apse of the church, in a small room right behind the altar. What is unusual is that only clergy or the very rich were buried inside churches back then.
As read in the article published by Medievalists.net, “the study suggests that the location of this highly unusual burial makes SK3870 a prime candidate to be that of the All Saints’ anchoress, Lady German.”