There are historical records referring to a Black Death burial ground that opened in in the area, where as many as 50, people may have been hastily interred in less than three years. The burial ground saw continued use until the s, according to CrossRail. The Black Death, or bubonic plague, was caused by a bacterium Yersinia pestis spread by fleas on rats.
It peaked in Europe in the mids, but killed an estimated 75 million people over the course of the 14th century. Victims sported blackened, swollen lymph nodes called buboes, contracted intense fevers and vomited blood, usually dying within days of contracting the disease. Charterhouse Square, where the skeletons were found, was a prime location for where the cemetery might be, as it hadn't been developed in the past years. In , archaeologists searching for a historic chapel found a single skeleton in the square. And two years ago, Crossrail archaeologists found previously-disturbed human bones.
Both of those discoveries were tantalizing clues that a larger graveyard might be nearby. Archaeologists have taken the excavated bones to the Museum of London Archaeology for testing, including DNA tests to identify any remaining Plague bacteria and radiocarbon testing on the bones to establish firm burial dates. The scientists say there is no health risk from the Plague bacteria, as it can't survive in the soil for long rather they are looking for the dead bacteria's DNA. The site will be used as a shaft to support tunneling works once the skeletons are removed and analyzed.
Crossrail has also turned up skeletons near Bethlem Royal Hospital, better known as Bedlam for its appalling conditions in the Middle Ages. Stature and frailty during the Black Death: the effect of stature on risks of epidemic mortality in London, A. DeWitte, Sharon and Slavin, Philip Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Vol. Kendall, E. Montgomery, J.
Evans, J. Stantis, C. Mobility, mortality, and the middle ages: Identification of migrant individuals in a 14th century black death cemetery population. Health in post-Black Death London : Age patterns of periosteal new bone formation in a post-epidemic population. Differential survival among individuals with active and healed periosteal new bone formation.
International Journal of Paleopathology, Vol. History Compass, Vol.
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An abstract is not available for this content so a preview has been provided below. Please use the Get access link above for information on how to access this content. References Hide All. Allyn , H.
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A hastily constructed cemetery may have become the final resting place for more than burial ground from black death plague of Disposal of the bodies of those who died in the major plague epidemics of the early modern period undoubtedly presented huge problems for the responsible.
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