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Work on new rly line digs up London history

Work on new  rly line digs up London history
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Jewellery, pieces of ships, medieval ice skates and centuries-old skulls - some fascinating pieces of London's history aren't in museums, but...

Jewellery, pieces of ships, medieval ice skates and centuries-old skulls - some fascinating pieces of London's history aren't in museums, but underground. More often than not, they stay there, but work on a new railway line under the British capital is bringing centuries of that buried history to light. The 118-km Cross rail line is Britain's biggest construction project and the largest archaeological dig in London for decades.

In the city's busy business core, archaeologists have struck pay dirt, uncovering everything from a chunk of Roman road to dozens of 2,000-year-old horseshoes, some golden 16th-century bling - and the bones of long-dead Londoners. One afternoon this week, archaeologists were unearthing newly discovered bones in a pit beside Liverpool Street rail and subway station, while living city-dwellers scuttled by, oblivious, a few feet away. The remains belong to a few of the 20,000 people interred in a burial ground established in the 16th century.

"Everyone's been running around in Liverpool Street for years and not thinking that they've been walking around on bodies from one of the densest burial grounds in London," said Nick Elsden, a Museum of London archaeologist helping to oversee excavations that go along with the work on the Cross rail line. The 2,000-year history of London goes deep - 5 to 6 meters (16 to 20 feet) deep, the distance between today's street level and sidewalks in Roman times.

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