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The Crossrail Discovery: London's Lost Graveyard
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Few people living or working in London today will be unaware of the mammoth Crossrail train project that’s digging its way beneath the city’s streets. It’s a huge step into the future, but what’s been uncovered from a former graveyard under Liverpool Street station reveals much about the capital’s past.
The New Churchyard at the Bethlem burial ground opened in 1569 as a result of the very success of London. Riding the crest of a wave in global trade, the city drew people in from all over the world, and archaeologists and historians are working with the evidence from bones and burial records to build new insights into their lives and deaths. It’s fascinating, if rather disconcerting, to see the parallels between the London of the 16th and 17th century and today. Migration, violent crime, pollution – all contributed to the story of the New Churchyard’s residents.
Documentary catching up with London's Crossrail engineers less than two years after the project's excavations uncovered the 14th-century Charterhouse plague pit. In an extraordinary turn of events, further work on the Liverpool Street station has revealed another burial ground, this time accommodating the capital's radicals, rebels and outsiders. The Bedlam burial ground, which is thought to be the final resting place of nearly 20,000 people, was believed to be lost for around 300 years. Now, with the excavation process under way, archaeologists and historians have been using bone analysis techniques in conjunction with parish records to reveal the names and life stories of those whose remains were found on-site. Their research reveals that people came from as far afield as Africa to work in the English capital, and sheds light on how pollution first became one of the city's most prolific killers.
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