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Crossrail unearths 30 Great Plague Skeletons

The remains of almost 30 Great Plague victims have been unearthed at a Crossrail site near Liverpool Street Station.

The mass burial site was discovered on the 350th anniversary of Great Plague by archaeologists as they excavated the Bedlam burial ground in the City of London.

The excavation started in March, ahead of Laing O’Rourke starting construction on part of Liverpool Street’s new Crossrail station.

Since then, more than 3,000 skeletons have been excavated from what archaeologists believe to be London’s most important 16th and 17th century cemetery site.

Archaeologists are now expected to finish on the site by September, following which Laing O’Rourke will start work on the new station’s eastern ticket office.

Crossrail lead archaeologist Jay Carver said: “The construction of Crossrail gives us a rare opportunity to study previously inaccessible areas of London and learn about the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners.

“This mass burial, so different to the other individual burials found in the Bedlam cemetery, is very likely a reaction to a catastrophic event.

”Only closer analysis will tell if this is a plague pit from The Great Plague in 1665 but we hope this gruesome but exciting find will tell us more about one of London’s most notorious killers.”

According to Crossrail, the appearance of a nearby headstone marked 1665 near the remains suggested that all of the victims were buried on the same day.

However, the thin coffins they were buried in are believed to have collapsed and rotted, giving the appearance of a mass grave.

Source: Crossrail Project

Crossrail archaeology: 360° video of suspected 1665 plague pit uncovered at Liverpool Street

The Museum of London Archeology’s senior osteologist Mike Henderson said: “The concentration of burials in this pit provides a new focus for scientific testing and study. We hope detailed osteological analysis will help determine whether these people were exposed to The Great Plague and potentially learn more about the evolution of this deadly disease.”

The remains at Liverpool Street are the latest discovery made during the construction of Crossrail.

More than 10,000 artefacts spanning 55m years of London’s past have been uncovered across 40 different construction sites, making it the UK’s largest archaeology project.

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