Westminster Abbey discovery sees ‘thousands’ of bodies unearthed under landmark

Thousands of bodies have been discovered buried under the grounds of London’s Westminster Abbey during a major archeological project.

The remains were found in a long-lost medical sacristy used by 13th century monks, with bodies being found near the busy Victoria Street.

Archaeologist Chris Mayo, who led the team at the site, said: “You have to be careful where you’re walking. You can see from the ground there are burials everywhere.”

It was found the sacristy was built in the 1250s by Henry III during the reconstruction of the abbey that was originally built by the second-last Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor.

But, before that the site was used as a burial ground for monks – one of which is in good condition despite being buried in the ground for hundreds of years.

It was later used as a regular dwelling in 1740 before it was demolished.

The Pre-Construct Archeology team had started work in January, with a three-month break taken due to the lockdown, in order to better understand the site.

Westminster Abbey authorities want to construct a new building at the site to house ticketing and security facilities where they will allow visitors to enter through the Great West Door, an entrance used by monarchs but not the public.

Before building on the site, the managers of the abbey wanted to delve deeper into the history of the original building.

Dr Mayo said there must be “hundreds if not thousands” of people buried under the abbey.

He told The Guardian: “This will be the case right the way across the Abbey site. Ultimately the Abbey’s grounds once went much further still…this whole area was awash with burials.

“If you dug a hole underneath the supreme court you’d find a few burials as well.”

The discovery comes after bones, skulls and the remains of coffins were discovered on a tiny island off the coast of Kent.

Photos show bones strewn across the ground after the remains of 200 people were discovered on a tiny island off the coast of Kent – which has been named Deadman’s Island.

Over 200 years ago, the mound of land found in the River Medway was used as a burial ground for criminals who had died aboard prison ships bound for Australia.

Floating prisons were filled with criminals whose destination was likely to be an early grave as they awaited transport to face the death penalty Down Under.

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