UK & World News
'Black Death' Skeletons Found Under Crossrail
Archaeologists say 12 skeletons found beneath a building site in London could provide evidence of a Black Death burial ground.
The remains were found by teams working on Crossrail - a £15bn project to improve transport links in the capital, including at Farringdon where the bones were found.
Historical records indicate a hastily-built cemetery opened in the area in 1348 as the plague spread across the country.
Up to 50,000 people are thought to have been buried there in less than three years.
Jay Carver, lead Crossrail archaeologist, said: "This is a highly significant discovery and at the moment we are left with many questions that we hope to answer.
"We will be undertaking scientific tests on the skeletons over the coming months to establish their cause of death, whether they were plague victims from the 14th century or later London residents, how old they were and perhaps evidence of who they were.
"However at this early stage, the depth of burials, the pottery found with the skeletons and the way they have been set out, all point towards this being part of the 14th century emergency burial ground."
The skeletons were found during excavations below a road in Charterhouse Square.
They were buried in two rows and laid out in a similar formation to skeletons discovered at a Black Death burial site in Smithfield in the 1980s.
Experts at the Museum of London Archaeology will now use DNA testing and carbon dating to determine both a cause of death and a burial date.
Charterhouse Square had previously been identified as a possible site for the lost burial ground, as it is one of few locations in Farringdon to remain undeveloped for the past 700 years.
Around 1.5 million Britons died in the Black Death - more than a third of the population - while about 25 million perished in Europe. It is thought to have orginated in Asia in 1346 and peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350.
The plague returned with various degrees of impact several times up until the 18th century - including deadly outbreaks in London in 1603 and between 1665 and 1666.
John Stow, the 16th century historian, said more than 150,000 victims of the Black Death were buried in London, including 50,000 at a site in Farringdon known as 'No Man's Land'.
Archaeologists working on Crossrail have already uncovered more than 300 skeletons near Liverpool Street station.
It is thought they were buried near the site of the Bedlam Hospital in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.
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what do you think?
Could history repeat itself?
Not surprising there are so many, between 1348 - 1349 up to half of the population of the UK died from the plague in all its forms - Bubonic, Pnuemonic and Septaecemic. If you were lucky you caught a version of the Black Death called Ambulatory Plague, about 2 per cent of people did, which wasn't very nice but was survivable. The death rate was much higher in 1349 than in later plague pandemics, people really thought the world was ending. Thank science we have a cure today because the Black Death hasn't vanished, every year you still get cases in Asia and South America.
I'm impressed by that my man. Stevie - go to the top of the class. You get a thumbs-up
Correct Stevie you know your history :D
He knows nothing. It was Fred West