Approximately 3000 skeletons were unearthed from a London burial ground during Crossrail’s preparations for a new east-west train line. The burial ground is set to become one of the line’s train stations.
Some of those skeletons belong to victims of the Black Plague. There is now a team of 60 archeologists who for the next month will be working in shifts 6 days a week in order to complete the removal of these remnants.
The skeletons will be offered a new resting place in a cemetery nearby London.
Crossrail officials said that the skeletons’ analysis might reveal new information regarding “the evolution of the plague bacteria strain”. The remnants will also be analyzed for data regarding “migration patterns, diet, lifestyle and demography” in order to understand more about London life between 1569 and 1738.
This was the period during which Bedlam ground was intensely used, a time of Shakespearian plays, one Great Fire and many plague outbreaks. Bedlam ground is London’s first burial ground, used by people who did not have the money for church burials. Others chose to be buried here out of religious or political motives.
Representatives of the Levellers, a political organization that plead in favor of popular sovereignty and religious tolerance are supposedly buried at Bedlam ground.
The location was named after the Bethlem Royal Hospital (also known as “Bedlam”) which is the oldest psychiatric institution in the world. The hospital has been relocated, the establishment now functioning outside London.
Jay Carver, Crossrail lead archaeologist explained that the Bedlam burial ground was used in “a fascinating phase of London’s history, including the transition from the Tudor-period City into cosmopolitan early-modern London”.
One of the project managers from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) said that the site expands for more than 6 meters and that it is located in “one of the oldest areas of the city”. He was very pleased with the project saying that there will be a lot to learn from all the unearthed archeological treasures.
The researchers expect ruins of an ancient Roman road will also be uncovered during the excavation. Various fragments of horseshoes and cremation urns dating from that period have already been unearthed.
After completing the excavation, a new ticket hall for Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station will be constructed.
Image Source: Independent