Thousands of skeletons have to be removed to make way for a giant new Crossrail station

Bedlam Burial 1

Around 3,000 dead bodies will be excavated out their graves to make way for the new Crossrail station at Liverpool Street.

The new underground railway is almost complete, and in March, works will start to build a new station in the Liverpool Street area, beneath the current Tube station.

But the construction sits within the area of an ancient graveyard, meaning that lots of skulls and bones have to be moved to make way for the new entrance to the station.

The excavation is coordinated by archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). The scientists are expected to dig out the remains of about 3,000 bodies plus medieval and Roman artifacts. So far, Crossrail has already found more than 10,000 artifacts spanning 55 million years of London’s history across over 40 construction sites.

To pave way for the excavation, in June last year, Crossrail had 16 volunteers scour parish records from across the capital to create a list of people buried at Bedlam in the 16th and 17th centuries.

The resulting database includes a famous astrologer who was stoned to death in 1628 and a former Mayor of London in the 16th Century.

The burial ground was established in 1569 to help parishes cope with overcrowding during outbreaks of plague and other epidemics.

Once recovered, the bodies will be transferred to consecrated land, Crossrail said in a statement.

Here is where the excavation is going to take place:

LivSt Map

Jay Carver, lead archaeologist at Crossrail, said that the research will give insights into one of the most turbulent periods of London’s history. “These people lived through civil wars, the Restoration, Shakespeare’s plays, the birth of modern industry, plague and the Great Fire. It is a real privilege to uncover more knowledge about this fascinating period of history,” she said.

Liverpool Street is one of 10 new Crossrail stations being built in central and southeast London.

Here are some pictures:

Only a few bodies have been uncovered so far.

Liverpool Street Skeletons 6

This skeleton was found at Broadgate, while building a ticket hall.

Liverpool Street Skeletons 4

In Liverpool Street, scientists from MOLA are working on the biggest archaeological operation in UK history.

Liverpool Street Skeletons 5

Volunteers had to make sure that the archaeologists knew what they will find underground. For this reason, they searched in parish records to come up with a list of the buried bodies.

Liverpool Street Skeletons 2

This is how the area looked back in the 17th century:

Liverpool Street Skeletons 3

And this impression gives you an idea of how the new station will look like once completed in 2019:

Liverpool Street Skeletons 1