Excavations for London's Crossrail project have unearthed bodies believed to date from the time of the Black Death. A burial ground was known to be in an area outside the City of London, but its exact location remained a mystery. Thirteen bodies have been found so far in the 5.5m-wide shaft at the edge of Charterhouse Square, alongside pottery dated to the mid-14th Century.
DNA taken from the skeletons may also help chart the development and spread of the bacterium that caused the plague that became known as the Black Death.
The skeletons' arrangement in two neat rows suggests they date from the earliest era of the Black Death, before it fully developed into the pandemic that in later years saw bodies dumped haphazardly into mass graves. Archaeologists working for Crossrail and the Museum of London will continue to dig in a bid to discover further remains, or any finds from earlier eras.


The ?14.8bn Crossrail project aims to establish a 118km-long (73-mile) high-speed rail link with 37 stations across London, and is due to open in 2018. Because of the project's underground scope, significant research was undertaken into the archaeology likely to be found during the course of the construction. Teams have already discovered skeletons near Liverpool Street, a Bronze-Age transport route, and an array of other finds, including the largest piece of amber ever found in the UK. The find is providing more than just a precise location for the long-lost burial ground, said Nick Elsden, project manager from the Museum of London Archaeology, which is working with Crossrail on its sites.
In addition, the bodies may contain DNA from the bacteria responsible for the plague - from an early stage in the pandemic - helping modern epidemiologists track the development and spread of differing strains of a pathogen that still exists today. Comments This entry is now closed for comments Jump to comments pagination   Editors' Picks All Comments 320 rate this +1 rate this +1 Comment number 295.


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