New electronic map reveals where skeletons lie beneath London streets

June 28th, 2008 - 5:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, June 28 (ANI): Londoners would now be able to view the locations of the tens of thousands of skeletons that once lay hidden beneath the citys streets, thanks to an electronic map developed by Museum of London.

The map shows the location of nearly 37,000 skeletons discovered by the museum in the capital.

The curators have kept 17,000 of these in storage at the museum’s headquarters in Central London, but reinterred the rest. The 26 skeletons found excavations would be exhibited at the Wellcome Collection in London.

The skeletons on the map represent only a fraction of the number of bodies lying beneath the city that were unearth during demolition and new foundations dug.

During the excavations, the archaeologists discovered a skeleton of a young woman who died around the beginning of the 19th century. She had such severe syphilis that her skull still bears the scars of where the disease entered her bones.

Bill White, senior curator of the museum’s bio-archaeology department revealed that the woman would have had open sores on her forehead.

By that time she would have been out of her mind, so she wouldn’t have known much about it, Times Online quoted White, as saying.

Talking about the skeleton he said, She was in her twenties when she died. We think she may have been a prostitute, because Southwark, where she was found, was well known for prostitution at the time. The woman also suffered from rickets, probably from being kept indoors away from sunlight as a child, and had chronic tooth decay.

Another skeleton discovered had a metal spike lodged in its spine. White said that the man who was buried in Smithfield, East London, in about 1350, was probably hit with an arrow or spear, but the attack did not kill him. He survived only to catch bubonic plague in his late thirties or early forties.

Somehow the injury didn’t cause an infection, Mr White said. The body has reacted by building bone around the projectile. He survived for months or possibly years. He was found in a large plot of land set aside for burying victims of the Black Death.

Another skeleton of Nicholas Adams, who died in 1827, aged 78, with a full head of hair had the locks still attached to the skull. It has been kept in with a hairnet placed on it.

While exploring the Chelsea graveyard, the archaeologists discovered the Hand brothers, imaginatively named Richard Gideon and Gideon Richard, whose family invented the Chelsea Bun, however, it has not been put on exhibition.

The exhibition takes place at the Wellcome Collection, London NW1, from July 23 to September 28. (ANI)

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