Crossrail isn’t just providing us with a new means of transport, it has also unearthed some fascinating London history.
New Crossrail research has identified the names and backgrounds of a whopping 5,000 remains discovered in the Bedlam burial ground in Liverpool Street. So far identified amongst the bones lie victims of the plague, a notorious criminal that was murdered by the mob, and even a Lord Mayor. Just recently they’ve found a plague tombstone dating back to 1665.
The next lot of digging, dusting and examining begins in March when the team will excavate the other 3,000 skeletons and expose more of London’s history.
It’s a massive archaeology project and so far Crossrail and MOLA (Museum of London Archaeology) has recovered over 10,000 artefacts spanning 55 million years of history. Pretty impressive, no?
Last June, 16 volunteers created a hugely detailed list of the thousands of people buried at the Bedlam site during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The research suggests that Dr John Lamb, an astrologer and advisor to the First Duke of Buckingham, is among the rubble. The story behind Lamb is that he was accused of rape and black magic, and is said to have been stoned to death by an angry mob outside a theatre way back in 1628. Gripping stuff!
The most commonly recorded form of death at the time seems to be the plague, and the Bedlam burial ground was created to help the parishes of 1569 cope with the mass of bodies.
This next dig aims to unearth artefacts from medieval and Roman times. Lead archaeologist at Crossrail, Jay Carver, said: ‘This research is a window into one of the most turbulent periods of London’s past. These people lived through civil wars, the Restoration, Shakespeare’s plays, the birth of modern industry, plague and the Great Fire.’
Those of you wondering what will happen to those poor dug-up souls can be comforted by the knowledge that after the excavation the skeletons are going to be reburied on sacred ground, ready to be unearthed in another few hundred years, probably by futuristic robo equipment.
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