Human skulls found by archaeologists beneath Liverpool Street station's Roman ruins

By Culture24 Reporter | 11 October 2013

Tunnellers who discovered 20 decapitated skulls during building works at Liverpool Street railway station say the heads have come from a Roman burial ground washed down the River Walbrook.

Queen Boudicca’s supporters are thought to have carried out the killing spree during a rebellion against Roman occupation during the 1st century.

Experts from Museum of London Archaeology are analysing the bones in a bid to surmise the age, sex and diet of their former owners. Around 3,000 skeletons are expected to be excavated when the Bedlam burial ground is fully excavated next year.

“This isn’t the first time that skulls have been found in the bed of the River Walbrook,” says Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver, who asked the tunnellers to carry out the work due to the dangerous depth of the skulls, which were buried up to six metres below earth.

“Many early historians suggested these people were killed during the Boudicca rebellion against the Romans.

“We now think the skulls are possibly from a known Roman burial ground about 50 metres up river from our Liverpool Street station worksite.

“Their location in the Roman layer indicates they were possibly washed down river during the Roman period.”

Declaring the “unexpected and fascinating” discoveries “another piece in the jigsaw of London’s history”, Carver said the clusters of skulls suggested they had been washed out of the ground during Roman times and caught in a bend in the river.

The cemetery was located beneath the area now known as Eldon Street.

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A close-up photo of a grey human skull
© Crossrail
A photo of men in high-visibility jackets looking at skulls underground
© Crossrail
A photo of a man in a high-visibility jacket handling a human skull
© Crossrail
A photo of a grey human skull next to Roman pottery
© Crossrail
A photo of a man in a high-visibility jacket handling a skull on an archaeological site
© Crossrail
A photo of a grey skull next to Roman pottery
© Crossrail
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