The Plague of Cemeteries

14th-Century Black Death Graveyard Found in London
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East Smithfield · Medieval London Sites · Medieval London

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

The Creepy and Sad Cemetery

International Journal of Paleopathology, Vol. History Compass, Vol.

Black death in Brisbane: The lost plague cemetery

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So what did kill them? The scientists identified the cause of the Black Death as the bacterium Yersinia pestis , rather than anthrax or a mix of pathogens, as some had suspected. Allyn , H. By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. True, corpses and those who handled them were treated with great caution; the Plague Orders said that bodies must not be kept in church during public assemblies or services there, and made the searchers and bearers of the dead identify themselves and keep their distance in public. They had this square hammer-headed mace for bashing in skulls. As it turns out, probably not.

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.

Cemetery location

Annals of medical history VII. Brooke , C. London the shaping of a city. London : Batsford.

The Black Death in London

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.

Defoe , D. A journal of the plague year. Harmondsworth : Penguin. Hodgett , G. Keene , D.

Medieval London and its region , The London Journal 14 2 : 99 — Morley , Hendry. John Stow — A Survey of London London : Routledge. Nohl , J. The Black Death — a chronicle of the plague from contemporary sources. Shrewsbury , J. A history of bubonic plague in the British Isles. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press. White , W.

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