Black Death skeletons unearthed by Crossrail project
By James Morgan
Science reporter, BBC News
Between 1347 and 1351 the “Great Pestilence” swept westward across Europe killing millions of people. It later became known as the Black Death.
It arrived on Britain’s shores in 1348 and is believed to have wiped out up to 60% of the population at the time.
In London, two emergency burial grounds were dug outside the walls of the City. One has been found at East Smithfield, while the other is known to lie somewhere in Farringdon.
In March 2013, Crossrail engineers uncovered 25 skeletons in a 5.5m-wide shaft – alongside pottery dated to the mid-14th Century.
Samples from 12 of the corpses were taken for forensic analysis. In at least four cases, scientists found traces of the DNA of the Yersinia pestis, confirming they had contact with the plague prior to their death.
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