All posts by Archaeology World Team

7 dead, 21 missing after South Korean tour boat in Budapest sinks in seconds

Billionaire-Owned Viking Cruises Involved In Collision, Leaving 7 Dead And 21 Missing

One of Viking’s river cruise ships was involved in a fatal collision on Wednesday night as it was traveling through Budapest on the Danube River, leaving at least seven dead.

The Viking Sigyn, a 95-room river cruise ship, collided with a smaller sightseeing boat, the Mermaid, as it was approaching the Margaret Bridge in the heart of Hungary’s capital

The Mermaid, which was carrying 33 South Korean passengers and two Hungarian personnel, capsized and sunk in about eight seconds, according to Hungarian authorities.

At least seven passengers on the Mermaid have been confirmed dead. Emergency crews were able to rescue another seven people from the water and another 21 remain missing.

A search party is continuing to scour the river for the missing passengers, according to authorities who spoke at a news conference on Thursday.

The efforts have been made more difficult by heavy rain, high water levels, and strong currents. The incident is also being investigated as a criminal matter, authorities said. The captain of the Viking Sigyn, a 64-year-old Ukrainian man identified just as Yuri C., was taken into custody.

A Viking spokesperson confirmed there were no injuries to Viking crew or guests and that the company will continue to “cooperate fully with the authorities” as they investigate.

An executive from South Korean tour agency Very Good Tour, Lee Sang-moo, reportedly said at a press conference in Seoul that the group aboard the Mermaid was nearing the end of a week-long European tour that had begun in Munich. Sang-moo said that the survivors include six women and one man between the ages of 31 and 66.

The collision follows at least two other incidents from Viking this year. In April, the Viking Idun river ship collided with an oil tanker off the coast of the Netherlands, causing five people to be injured.

In March, one of Viking’s ocean cruise ships experienced a loss of engine power off the coast of Norway and evacuated 479 passengers by helicopter before it was able to travel to shore under its own power.

That episode prompted a lawsuit from a New Jersey couple, who claimed that Viking “negligently sailed through notoriously perilous waters into the path of a bomb cyclone,” despite severe weather warnings.

Viking Cruises was started in 1997 by Tor Hagen, a Norwegian-born, Harvard-educated former cruise line executive who launched the company with four Russian riverboats at the age of 54.

Hagen went on to make European river cruises a popular vacation option among older Americans. Today, Viking has a fleet of 78 river and ocean cruise ships and generates $1.6 billion in net revenue.

The company is worth $3.4 billion after the most recent private equity injection, and Hagen owns three-fourths of it.

The horrendous Viking torture that is the Blood Eagle

Blood Eagle: The Viking Torture Method So Grisly Some Historians Don’t Believe It Actually Happened

A blood eagle execution.
A blood eagle execution.

The Vikings didn’t come into towns walking on moonbeams and rainbows. If their sagas are to be believed, the Vikings cruelly tortured their enemies in the name of their god Odin as they conquered territory. If the suggestion of a blood eagle was even uttered, one left town and never looked back. Viking sagas define blood eagle as one of the most painful and terrifying torture methods ever created. The story describes:

“Earl Einar went to Halfdan and carved blood-eagle on his back in this wise, that he thrust a sword into his trunk by the backbone and cut all the ribs away, from the backbone down to the loins, and drew the lungs out there….”

The History Of Blood Eagle Executions

One of the earliest accounts of the use of the blood eagle is thought to have occurred in 867. It began a few years before, when Aella, king of Northumbria (present-day North Yorkshire, England), fell victim to a Viking attack. Aella killed the Viking leader Ragnar Lothbrok by throwing him into a pit of live snakes.

A statue of Ragnar Lothbrok.
A statue of Ragnar Lothbrok.

In revenge, Lothbrok’s sons invaded England in 865. When the Danes captured York, and Lothbrok’s son who was also the most feared Viking of his day, Ivarr the Boneless, saw to it that Aella would be killed.

Of course, killing him wasn’t good enough. Ivarr’s father Ragnar had —allegedly — met a gruesome fate by a pit of snakes. Ivarr the Boneless wanted to make an example out of Aella and to strike fear into the hearts of his enemies.

Thus, he committed the damned king to the blood eagle.

How It Worked

Modern scholars debate how Vikings performed this ritual torture and in fact whether they even performed the gruesome method at all. The process of the blood eagle is indeed so cruel and grisly that it would be difficult to believe that it could actually be carried out. Regardless of whether it is merely a work of literary fiction, there is no denying the fact that the ritual was stomach-churning.

The victim’s hands and legs were tied to prevent escape or sudden movements. Then, the person seeking vengeance stabbed the victim by his tailbone and up towards the rib cage. Each rib was then meticulously separated from the backbone with an ax, which left the victim’s internal organs on full display.

The victim is said to have remained alive throughout the entire procedure. What’s worse, the Vikings would then literally rub salt into the gaping wound in the form of a saline stimulant.

As if this wasn’t enough, after having all of the person’s ribs cut away and spread out like giant fingers, the torturer then pulled out the lungs of the victim to make it appear as if the person had a pair of wings spread out on his back. Thus, the blood eagle was manifested in all its gory glory. The victim had become a slimy, bloody bird.

The Ritual Behind The Blood Eagle

King Aella was not the last royal to face the blood eagle. One scholar believes that at least four other notable figures in Northern European history suffered the same fate. King Edmund of England was also a victim of Ivarr the Boneless. Halfdan, son of King Haraldr of Norway, King Maelgualai of Munster and Archbishop Aelheah were all believed to victims of blood eagle torture because they were victims of the merciless and bloodlusty Ivarr the Boneless.

That means the torture method could have occurred in England, Ireland, and France. There were two main reasons Vikings used the blood eagle on their victims. First, they believed it was a sacrifice to Odin, father of the Norse pantheon of gods and the god of war.

Second, and more possibly, was that the blood eagle was done as a punishment to honorless individuals. According to the Orkneyinga saga of the Vikings, Halfdan was defeated in battle at the hands of Earl Einar who then tortured him with a blood eagle as he conquered Halfdan’s kingdom. Similarly, Aella was tortured in vengeance.

Indeed, even the stories of the blood eagle — true or not — would have emptied out any village just by word of mouth before the Vikings could even make ground there. At the very least, the rumors of such torture would have established the Vikings as a divinely fearsome lot — and not to be trifled with.

Ritual Or Rumor?

Victims of the practice died in the 800s and 900s, maybe into the 1000s. Written accounts, often embellished and told for entertainment during long winter nights up north, didn’t come about until the 1100s and 1200s. Writers of the Viking sagas heard stories and wrote them down. Perhaps they embellished the ferocity of Vikings to make them sound more heroic.

A depiction of messengers of King Aella bringing news to the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. Clearly, that didn’t do any good.
A depiction of messengers of King Aella bringing news to the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok. Clearly, that didn’t do any good.

However, there may be merit to the blood eagle story. The poets who wrote them down were very specific in the method used. Surely, someone actually tried this torture method because of the gory details that someone described. One Danish historian, Saxo Grammaticus, relays the ritual as merely the means of carving an eagle into a victim’s back and other details were added later and, “combined in inventive sequences designed for maximum horror.” Either the blood eagle was an actual thing, or it was a propaganda tool. But either way, it was terrifying.

Other Viking Torture Methods

The Vikings employed other torture methods aside from the blood eagle. One was known as Hung meat, which was just as nasty as it sounds. Vikings pierced the heels of victims, threaded ropes through the holes, and then strung them upside-down. Not only was piercing the heels horrendously painful, but the blood ran down to their hearts.

The fatal walk was another gruesome testament to torture. A victim’s abdomen was sliced open and a bit of intestine was pulled out. Then the torturer held the victim’s intestines as the victim walked around a tree. Eventually, the entirety of the victim’s intestinal tract would wrap around the tree.

Whether it was a blood eagle, hung meat, or a fatal walk, the Vikings knew how to make examples out of their enemies.

If these torture methods are true, they harken back to a bloody time in humanity’s past. If they are false, then the Vikings knew how to spread fear into the hearts of others without really having to do much.

Was Fertility a Factor in the Demise of Neanderthals?

Was Fertility a Factor in the Demise of Neanderthals?

Neanderthals could have gone extinct due to a slight drop in their fertility rates, a new study finds.

The last of the Neanderthals, the closest extinct relatives of modern humans, disappeared from Europe about 40,000 years ago. Previous research estimated that at its peak, the entire Neanderthal population in both Europe and Asia was quite small, totaling 70,000 at most.

Scientists have long debated whether the dispersal of modern humans across the globe helped kill off Neanderthals, either directly through conflict or indirectly through the spread of disease.

“The disappearance of the Neanderthal population is an exciting subject — imagine a human group that has lived for thousands of years and is very well-adapted to its environment, and then disappears,” study senior author Silvana Condemi, a paleoanthropologist at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, told Live Science.

“For a long time, it was thought that Homo sapiens had simply killed the Neanderthals. Today, thanks to the results of genetic analysis, we know that the encounters between Neanderthals and sapiens were not always so cruel, and that interbreeding took place — even today’s humans have genes of Neanderthal origin.”

Instead of investigating why the Neanderthals disappeared, “we looked for the ‘how’ of their demise,” Condemi said.

Specifically, the scientists generated computer models that explored how Neanderthal populations might decline and go extinct over time in response to a variety of factors, such as war, epidemics and reduced fertility or survival rates among men and women of varying ages.

“Very quickly, we found something unexpected — this disappearance, which occurred over a very long period, cannot be explained by a catastrophic event,” Condemi said.

Computer models that assumed modern humans killed off Neanderthals via war or epidemics found that these factors would have driven Neanderthals to extinction far more rapidly than the 4,000 to 10,000 years in the archaeological record during which modern humans and Neanderthals are known to have coexisted in Europe, the researchers said.

The scientists also found that neither an increase in juvenile or adult survival rates, nor a strong decrease in fertility rates, were likely causes for the long decline seen in Neanderthals.

Instead, they discovered that Neanderthal extinction was possible within 10,000 years with a 2.7% decrease in fertility rates of young Neanderthal women — first-time mothers less than 20 years old — and within 4,000 years with an 8% decrease in fertility rates in this same group.

“The disappearance of the Neanderthals was probably due to a slight decline in the fertility among the youngest women,” Condemi said. “This is a phenomenon that is limited in scope that, over time, had an impact.”

A variety of factors might have lowered these fertility rates. Condemi noted that pregnancies among young, first-time mothers “are on the average more risky than second or later pregnancies.

A minimum of calories is essential for the maintenance of pregnancy, and a reduction of food, and therefore of calories, is detrimental to pregnancy.”

Neanderthals disappeared during a time of climate change. Environmental fluctuations might have led to a slight decrease in food, and in turn “may explain a reduction in fertility,” Condemi said.

Condemi noted that prior work suggested that with modern humans “if the average number of births falls to a level of 1.3 among the women of the world, our species would disappear in 300 years. This is an unlikely model, but the results would be very rapid!”

Plans for tennis court to be dug up to search for remains of Saxon King.

Plans for a tennis court to be dug up to search for remains of Saxon King.

Saint Edmund is believed to have been killed by the Vikings in the 9th century after refusing to denounce his Christianity.

His remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds but were later lost during Henry VIII’s reign and the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey.

Now, Bury St Edmunds Believe it might have the remains of Saint Edmund, a Saxon monarch, buried under one of his tennis courts.

The Tennis courts in the grounds of Abbey Gardens Bury St Edmunds where archaeologists could be set to look for King Edmund’s remains

At the time of the desecration of the Benedictine Abbey, during Henry VIII’s reign, the remains were lost.

But historians believe the remains may well be below the tennis courts in Abbey Gardens, which sit on top of a former monks’ graveyard in the sedate East Anglian town.

Plans to move the courts are being considered so archaeologists may soon be allowed to look for King Edmund’s remains underneath.

The plans have the backing of St Edmundsbury Borough Council, who own the Abbey Gardens, near St Edmundsbury Cathedral.

Robert Everitt, the local councillor in charge of the project said: “It would be an incredibly important historical discovery if he was found under there.

“It is something the borough want to do and the cathedral are in agreement as well, but we need to ensure we replace the courts.

“We are looking at St James Middle School courts, which are not being used [as the school is closed]. They would be ideal and would ensure people can play tennis right next to Abbey Gardens.”

Academic researcher and historian Francis Young, who was born in Bury, said: “The commissioners who dissolved the Abbey on November 4, 1539, mentioned nothing about the body, and given St Edmund’s royal status it is likely they would have quietly allowed the monks to remove the body from the shrine and relocate it.

“According to a third-hand account from 1697, St Edmund was placed in an iron chest by a few monks but sadly the account does not give the location within the Abbey precincts where he was buried. On balance, however, the monks’ cemetery is the most likely location.”

His remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds
His remains were kept in a shrine in Bury St Edmunds

If the monks did use an iron chest it would help archaeologists distinguish the monks’ graves from that of the king. A heritage partnership is tasked with preserving and promoting the Abbey ruins, with the removal of the courts aimed at improving the experience for visitors.

Edmund was the King of the East Angles in the 9th Century. It is widely accepted that Edmund was killed by Vikings. It is thought his place of death was somewhere in Suffolk or Norfolk.

His myth tells of brave King Edmund refusing to denounce his Christianity and being killed by several arrows. The Vikings then removed his head so Edmund could not be buried whole. However, loyal followers were able to find his head after a wolf called to them, shouting “here, here, here”.

Shortly after his death, a shrine containing his remains was built in the Abbey in a town called Bedericesworth.

This town later became Bury St Edmunds and the most popular and famous pilgrimage in England, visited by many kings. Saint Edmund later became the Patron Saint of England.

The Abbey was desecrated in the 16th Century when his remains are believed to have been removed from the shrine.

The Sinister Roman Cavalry Helmet of the Ribchester Hoard

The Ribchester Helmet – An Ancient Roman artifact discovered by a 13-year-old boy while playing behind the house

Archeologists have uncovered some extraordinary artifacts over the past centuries that give us a glimpse of human history and help us to understand the many secrets of the ancient world.

Over the years there have been numerous archeological expeditions, some of which have resulted in historically significant discoveries.

Yet some of the most exciting finds have been made by non-professionals who stumbled upon them purely by accident. Such is the case with the famous Ribchester Helmet, discovered by chance in 1796.

We are all aware that England is rich with archaeological sites, historical monuments, and important artifacts, especially from the Roman era. Ribchester in the county of Lancashire is a lesser-known site of a Roman fort and settlement. The most famous among the many artifacts discovered in the area is the Ribchester Helmet.

What is today considered one of the most famous helmets from Ancient Rome was discovered by accident in 1796 by a 13-year-old clog maker’s son, who found it while playing behind his house. The helmet was part of a small hoard of metal items, most probably belonging to a Roman soldier from about 120 AD.

Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire.
Discovered in the summer of 1796 by the son of Joseph Walton who was playing behind his father’s house in Ribchester, Lancashire. 

This two-piece ceremonial helmet, worn by Roman cavalrymen during military exercises and during parades and other ceremonies, weighs nearly three pounds and was most likely of little or no practical use on the battlefield.

However, the Romans, who are known for engaging in a variety of sporting competitions, also used this type of helmet during the cavalry sports events known by the name of “hippika gymnasia,” where these helmets were used to mark ranks and excellence in horsemanship.

Although Julius Caesar first paid a visit to Britain in 55 BC, it actually took almost 100 years before Romans landed on the beaches in Kent to conquer Britain in 43 AD.

The Roman occupation influenced almost every sphere of life in Britain, including culture, language, geography, and architecture. They built many new roads, numerous settlements, and countless forts, including the one at Ribchester.

What we know today about this type of Roman helmet is mostly thanks to the accounts left by Arrian of Nicomedia, who was a provincial governor and a close friend of Emperor Hadrian. As written in his Techne Taktike, which focuses on the “hippika gymnasia,” the best soldiers wore these helmets in cavalry tournaments.

Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK.
Only three Roman helmets with a covering over the face have been found in the UK. 

Called Bremetennacum Veteranorum, the Roman settlement and fort in Ribchester was built during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in the early 70s AD.

Apart from the remains of Ribchester Roman Fort and the Roman bathhouse that can be seen today, there is also a Roman Museum where visitors can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet.

The famous artifact is one of only three of its kind ever found in Britain, but it is considered to be the highest quality example. The second was found around 1905 and is now housed at the Museum of Antiquities in Edinburgh.

The third, known as the Crosby Garrett Helmet, was found in a field in 2010 by a metal detectorist who wants to remain anonymous. It was sold at auction for $3.6 million.

Since 1814, the original helmet is on display at the British Museum, but the Roman Museum in Ribchester has a replica. 

The Ribchester Helmet was clearly the most significant, but not the only artifact discovered back in 1796. The same hoard included many military and religious items, plates, pieces of a vase, and other items. It is believed that the finds that were placed there for over 16 centuries were in such good condition because they were covered in sand.

As mentioned above, you can see a replica of the Ribchester Helmet in the Roman Museum in Ribchester, and for those of you who want to see the original, you need to visit the British Museum in London, where the helmet has been on exhibition since 1814.

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

1,000-year-old Viking toilet uncovered in Denmark

Did you ever wonder where the Vikings went for Toilet? Or perhaps you didn’t really think about it. We don’t always think about how it used to be with the world’s luxury today, especially a thousand years ago.

A 1000-year-old toilet dating back to the Viking age was found in Denmark in Stevns Municipality, in the town of Strøby on the farm called Toftegård.

This toilet seems to have been in a small house or maybe an outhouse. By using the carbon 14 method on the feces, it shows that it dates back to the Viking age, and therefore there is a big probability that this is the oldest toilet discovered in Denmark.

According to the Ph.D. student Anna S. Beck from the museum in southeast Denmark, this was a random discovery. She says, quote: We were looking for small houses called grubehuse, which are small workshop cabins, on the surface, it looked like them, but we soon figured out that it was something else.

We know of outhouses from the late Viking age and from the early middle ages, but not from villages or farms. People just thought that they used their feces as manure in the fields or just used the stable where they had their animals. The logic behind this is, that people in the cities just wanted to get rid of it, but in the country, it was a resource to grow their crops. So I got very surprised when the results from the samples came back.

There could be more of these discoveries to be uncovered in Denmark, but it could also be one of a kind discovery. According to Anna, the people in this community might have been inspired by the people in the Mediterranean, after an expedition, and built a version of it when they returned home.

According to Anna S. Beck, Archaeologist could have overlooked finds like these in the past, because they didn’t think toilets existed outside the cities. In the results from analyzing the feces, they found traces of honey, which is something animals rarely eat, especially in the same spot for years. If the Vikings ate bread with honey or drank mead is unclear, but there was definitely pollen from honey in the soil.

The Vikings were not the only ones who loved honey, even the Danes today are still in love with their sweet honey, and lucky for the Danes they live in the country with the worlds best honey, at least according to a big beekeeping conference in Istanbul in Turkey last year.

Personally, I always buy the Danish brand, not just because of its quality, but also because it is important to support your local farms, but I don’t brew mead nor do I put it on a piece of bread, I like it in my tea, taste much better than sugar.

Anyway back to the subject, it seems that this farm was not just an ordinary farm, but a big farm with a wealthy community and a community with a high status.

Their living quarters were a big hall 10 x 40 meters, and it seems that they have been living there for generations, because there were 4 other great halls close by, which dates further back. While this seems to have a community of high status, it was not on the level as Gammel Lejre.

As Anna says the Vikings did not pick their house from a catalog, which of course makes sense, and I would love to see what kind of gifts our soil has in store for us in the future. Just like there are variations in how the Vikings practiced their faith and which Gods and Goddesses were important to them, there also has to be some differences in their architecture.

Not all the Archaeologist agree with Anna S. Beck, and she has generally met resistance to the idea. Some Archaeologist thinks that the excrements could have been put in the hole by other means, and not necessarily have been a Viking toilet.

According to Anna the thought that excrements were used in the fields requires, that the people had a modern and rational ratio to their life.

We know that In other cultures all over the world, the treatment of excrements has been complicated cultural, as well as social, rules and taboos. By looking at the toilet culture we can learn a lot from their standards and rules within their society.

We know that people and animals lived together under the same roof for more than 1000 years in Scandinavia. But in the late Viking age, the people and the animals started to distance themselves from each other. The people might have changed their habits and not just walked into the stable and sit among the animals.

Since the excavation started in 1995, and only a third of the area 47.000 m2 of more than 160.000 m2 has been investigated, there might be more treasures from the past, laying in the soil ready to be discovered.

London archaeology dig: Skeletons reveal noxious environs in early industrial Britain

Skeletons found in London archaeology dig reveal noxious environs

News reports and social media anxiety may make us feel that life is tough in Britain today but the extraordinary findings of a new archaeological excavation have provided a salutary reminder that, a couple of centuries ago, it was so much worse.

Archeologists working on a burial site at the New Covent Garden market in south-west London in the early 19th century, where about 100 bodies were found, said they contained evidence of arduous working conditions, a harmful environment, endemic diseases, physical deformities, malnutrition, and deadly violence.

Between the 1830s and 1850s, the burials offer an extraordinary glimpse of life in early industrial London. They show the hardness of life that Charles Dickens so acutely described in his classic novels for the industrial poor.

One of the skeletons’ hands showed signs of bare-knuckle fighting.
One of the skeletons’ hands showed signs of bare-knuckle fighting. 

The skeletal remains of those who might have been Dickens’ subjects, who could be deemed among the first “modern” Londoners, have been uncovered by Wessex Archaeology during the excavation of part of a cemetery originally situated on the site of New Covent Garden Market in Nine Elms.

The skull of a female who died as a result of a stab wound to the head. Photograph: Wessex Archaeology
The skull of a female who died as a result of a stab wound to the head. Photograph: Wessex Archaeology

The cemetery was attached to the church of St George the Martyr.

The site had been partially cleared in the 1960s, just before the new market was built, having relocated from its original setting in central London.

Kirsten Egging Dinwiddy, senior osteoarchaeologist at Wessex Archaeology, told the Guardian these were people who had led “a life of drudgery and just-about surviving”. This part of the capital saw a particularly dramatic change from rural market gardens to a heavily industrialized and urbanized environment over just a few years, she said.

“All of a sudden, the world changes and there [are] hideous factories and noxious gases … Gasworks, big railway depots, a lot of construction work.”She added: “The surrounding assortment of noxious, dangerous and labor-intensive industries would have made for very poor working and living conditions, although great numbers of people continued to flock to the area to take advantage of work opportunities.

Most of those trying to survive in and around the area would have been classed as poor or very poor.”The burials reveal high levels of chronic infections, including endemic syphilis.

Three burials in particular offer fascinating insights. One of them reveals a woman who had suffered lifelong congenital syphilis and had led a strenuous working life that involved heavy use of her upper arms and shoulders.

She had a broken nose and a wound to her skull, suggesting she had been murdered. Archaeologists believe that she was attacked, probably from behind, stabbed in the right ear with a thin blade, like a stiletto dagger.

In another burial, a man who was once nearly six feet tall was found. He would have had a distinctive look. A flattened nose and a depression on his left brow suggest “several violent altercations”, the archaeologists say. Bare-knuckle fighting was a popular pastime – he died before the adoption of Queensberry Rules that required boxing gloves – and his knuckles show signs of such fights.

Egging Dinwiddy said that “he would have had a less-than-winning smile” as both front teeth had been lost, probably due to an enormous cyst on the roof of his mouth. He also suffered from syphilis.

About 40% of the burials were of children under the age of 12, reflecting high infant mortality rates of the time. One of the burials has added poignancy because it has a coffin plate revealing the name of Jane Clara Jay, who died on 18 March 1847, just before her second birthday.

She was the daughter of Sarah Jay and her labourer husband, George James Jay, of Nine Elms. Archaeologists found signs of underlying malnutrition, but the exact cause of her death is unclear.

New Covent Garden market is the UK’s largest fresh-produce market. Its 175 businesses employ more than 2,500 people. In partnership with Vinci St Modwen, it is undergoing major redevelopment with new buildings and facilities.

Archaeologists were taken aback by the sheer number of burials beneath what was a car park. They thought that the site of the original cemetery had been completely cleared in the 1960s. Finds from the New Covent Garden project will be shown as part of Digging for Britain on BBC.

60,000 skeletons buried in a green area of ​​London have been excavated

Mass dig of 60,000 skeletons from 230-year-old cemetery set to expose London’s secrets

A mammoth dig is ongoing that is expected to Unearth 60,000 skeletons from a London cemetery that is 230 years old.

To date, 1,200 people’s bones have been exhumed from the burial ground near Euston Station to make way for the new high-speed railway between Birmingham and the capital.

The major dig show archeologists recently released photos clearing thick clay from coffins and brushing the dirt from remains. They are part of an archeological team on the 150-mile HS2 route that is currently delving into 10,000 years of British history.

Field archaeologists work on the excavation of a late 18th to mid-19th-century cemetery under St James Gardens near Euston train station in London, as part of the HS2 high-speed rail project. – Tucked behind one of London’s busiest railway stations, a small army of archaeologists shovel thick clay as they clear a vast burial site to make way for a new train line.  

Land at St James’s Gardens – the former site of a late 18th and 19th-century burial ground – is needed for Euston’s expansion. With tens of thousands of skeletons to be removed, protests and a memorial service have been held at the site where people were laid to rest from 1790 to 1853.

HS2 project bosses say that an estimated 60,000 people are buried there, including notable people such as Lord George Gordon, who in 1780 called for the repeal of the Catholic Relief Act and a return to the repression of Catholics.

A field archaeologist uses a brush on a skeleton in an open coffin during the excavation of a late 18th to mid-19th-century cemetery under St James Gardens near Euston train station in London as part of the HS2 high-speed rail project. 

He led a 60,000-strong crowd from St George’s Fields to the Houses of Parliament, which prompted anti-Catholic riots. Also buried at St James’s Garden is Matthew Flinders, one of the world’s most accomplished navigators who was born in England, entered the navy at the age of 15 and served with Captain Bligh.

After sailing for Australia just five years later, he made detailed surveys of the country’s coastline and islands – becoming the first person to circumnavigate it.

Machines have been used to remove the topsoil, stopping once coffins or human remains are exposed. Archaeologists then carry out further excavation by hand.HS2 bosses said that “all artifacts and human remains will be treated with due dignity, care and respect.”

They have been working with Historic England, the Church of England and the local parish to “put appropriate plans in place for reburial”.

A London Inheritance said that it was “unusual for a public park and an old burial ground to disappear, however, this has been the fate of St James’s Gardens.“It will be a major task for the exhumation and reburial of such a large number of bodies.”

The website has photos of the gardens, to record “a historic space that will soon be lost from the landscape of London forever.”Research will be carried out into how cemeteries have developed, and the burial practice in terms of the treatment of bodies and coffins compared to other excavation sites.

A planning document on this and other planned digs said that: “St James’s seems to represent a typical late post-Medieval London cemetery… but on its own is unlikely to provide significant insights.”So far, sites along the rail route have revealed Neolithic tools, medieval pottery, and Victorian time capsules.

In total, more than a thousand archaeologists are set to explore more than 60 separate sites, from prehistoric and Roman settlements to those from the Industrial Revolution and the Second World War.

Mark Thurston, HS2 chief executive, said: “Before we bore the tunnels, lay the tracks and build the stations, an unprecedented amount of archaeological research is now taking place between London and Birmingham.”This is the largest archaeological exploration ever in Britain, employing a record number of skilled archaeologists and heritage specialists from across the UK and beyond.”

Archaeological sites being investigated along the route include a prehistoric hunter-gatherer site on the outskirts of London, a Roman British town in Fleet Marston, Aylesbury, a 1,000-year-old demolished medieval church and burial ground in Buckinghamshire and a WW2 bombing decoy in Lichfield.