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Medieval Mass Grave in Durham

Archaeologists Discover Medieval Mass Grave in England

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Archaeologists from the University of Durham in northern England have found the remains of eighteen individuals at a dig on the City’s World Heritage Site, providing clear evidence of a mass grave dating back to Medieval times.

Archaeologists first thought the bodies had belonged to Durham Cathedral’s cemetery and had just been buried a bit beyond the boundaries of the present day burial site, but then they noticed features that indicated these were not regular burials.

The bodies demonstrated were packed closely together in an unorthodox layout and some were buried in a North to South alignment rather than an East to West alignment which is typical for conventional medieval burials.

"The bodies have been tipped into the earth without elaborate ceremony and they are tightly packed together and jumbled,” said Richard Annis, senior archaeologist, Archaeological Services Durham University.

At this stage, archaeologists are unclear about the circumstances in which the individuals died or why they would have been buried in a mass grave. It is possible that the individuals died of an infectious disease leading to a hasty burial, or perhaps it was something more sinister that took place.

“The process of post-excavation processing, examination and analysis is essential to allow us to draw proper conclusions about this group of human remains,” said Mr Annis.

The same Durham University team will carry out further research into the remains, which will include dating the bones and looking for clues as to their origin.  Once the bones have been examined they will be reinterred at an approved burial ground.

By April Holloway

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