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article imageVideo: Archaeologists uncover 'Black Death' skeletons in London

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 15, 2013 in World
London - Archaeologists believe they may have uncovered the burial site of more than 50,000 victims of the Black Death that hit the city of London in 1348.
Twelve skeletons recovered from what is believed to be a Medieval grave 8ft beneath a road in Charterhouse Square between Farrington and Barbican Tube stations could answer questions about what caused the Black Death in 1348.
Sky.com reports the remains were found by teams working on Crossrail, a £14.8 billion project to improve transport links in the capital.
Historians and archaeologists are basing conclusions on the nature of the burial site on historical records that indicate that a cemetery was set up hastily in the area described as "no man's land" in 1348 as the Black Death spread across the country. About 50,000 victims of the plague are believed to have been buried around the site in Farrington as the plague ravaged the country.
According to Sky.com, a historian John Stow, said more than 150,000 victims of the Black Death were buried in London. More than 300 skeletons buried in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries close to the site of London's infamous psychiatric Bedlam hospital have been uncovered near Liverpool Street station, NBC News reports.
According to archaeologists working at the site, although the graves were emergency mass graves, the corpses were not simply thrown in carelessly. They were laid out carefully in two rows 2.5 meters (8.2 feet) below the road in the Farrington area often with arms folded neatly across the torso. Archaeologists are hoping that scientific tests, including DNA tests and carbon dating, will confirm the burial dates of the bodies and help to establish the cause of the Black Death in Britain which killed an estimated third of the native population following outbreak in 1348.
The Daily Mail reports that experts are working to uncover more bodies. A similar burial site was reportedly found in the 1980s at nearby Smithfield.
According to Sky.com, 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."
Historians had previously identified Charterhouse Square as a possible site for a 14th century burial site because it is one of the few locations in the area to remain undeveloped in 700 years.
Historians estimate that about 1.5 million Britons died during the Black Death, more than a third of the population at the time. About 25 million are estimated to have died in Europe.
Experts believe that the plague originated in Asia in 1346. It peaked in Europe between 1348 and 1350. There were a number of other peaks of the plague until the 18th century. Particularly deadly outbreaks occurred in London in 1603 and between 1665 and 1666.
Sky.com reports that a historian John Stow, said more than 150,000 victims of the Black Death were buried in London.
The latest find is the second major Medieval burial find in recent times. Archaeologists confirmed recently that they found the remains of King Richard III at a site under a car park in Central England, The monarch died in a battle in 1485.
More about Black death, London, Bubonic plague
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