Thirteen skeletons have been unearthed in the Farringdon area of London – believed to be victims of the fourteenth century Black Death. The terrible plague hit England in the period after the Knights Templar were disbanded and swept away entire villages and half the population in towns. London did not escape and was ravaged by King Death around 1348 to 1350.
The skeletons were unearthed during excavations for a new rail link across the capital called Crossrail. It proves the existence of a graveyard that chroniclers in the Middle Ages called a “no mans land” but had never actually been seen. The company put out a statement this week:
During the past two weeks, Crossrail’s archaeologists uncovered 13 skeletons 2.5 metres below the road that surrounds the gardens in Charterhouse Square. The depth of the burials, the pottery dated up until 1350 found in the graves and the layout of the skeletons all point to the likelihood that these skeletons were buried in Charterhouse Square during the Black Death Plague around 1349. The graves have been laid out in a similar formation as skeletons discovered in a Black Plague burial site in east Smithfield in the 1980s.
The skeletons are being carefully excavated and taken to the Museum of London Archaeology for laboratory testing. The scientists are hoping to map the DNA signature of the Plague bacteria and possibly contribute to the discussion regarding what caused the Black Death. The bones may also be radio carbon dated to try and establish the burial dates.
Plague cannot survive for very long in the soil. After 650 years, only the skeleton bones remain and do not present any modern-day health risk.
- Unearthed after seven centuries the ‘Black Death’ pit skeletons that could … – The Independent (independent.co.uk)
- ‘Black Death’ victims unearthed as Crossrail excavations reveal 12 Middle Ages skeletons (metro.co.uk)
- VIDEO: Rail project finds ‘Black Death pit’ (bbc.co.uk)