Crossrail to excavate thousands of skeletons from Bedlam burial site

Dig could unearth remains of a former Lord Mayor of London and those of a notorious criminal

Tunnelling work for the Crossrail underground railway is to be suspended in March while around 3,000 skeletons from the site of the Bedlam asylum burial ground near Liverpool Street are excavated.

The burial ground stood next to the old hospital and was used to bury those who didn’t survive their stint in Bedlam, and it was also used as a sixteenth century plague pit. According to one account, the keeper of the burial ground was ordered to “smother and repress the stenches”, from the mass grave.

Archaeologists expect to unearth some famous remains, as among those interred at the site include the former Lord Mayor of London, Sir Ambrose Nicholas, who took office in 1575. Others include a well-known astrologer and rumoured necromancer named Dr John Lamb, who was stoned to death in 1628 by a mob after allegations of rape and black magic.

Crossrail, which will be fully opened in 2019, has so far found more than 10,000 artefacts from London’s history across more than 40 construction sites.

More than 90% of the Crossrail train tunnels are now complete, and six of Crossrail’s eight tunnelling machines have now completed their subterranean drives

Crossrail tunnels unfinished

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Jay Carver, lead archaeologist at Crossrail, 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.

“Our heartfelt thanks go to the volunteer researchers, who have contributed immensely to Crossrail’s legacy.”

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