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New Black Death Mass Grave Discovered

During the outbreak of the bubonic plague in England, it was common to see mass graves in and around cities due to dense population, but the recent discovery uncovered in a rural part of the country might change the picture of how the plague affected communities. In Lincolnshire, a mass grave of 48 people (21 of them children) was discovered.



The layout of the grave; Antiquity Publications Ltd



The site of the grave is located at Thornton Abby where a hospital was attached to the Abby at the time of the plague. The bodies were buried days apart from each other and were carefully placed in the graves after the bodies were wrapped. The ages of the victims range from a year old to 45 years, researchers also believe that it’s possible that plague victims younger than 12 months were buried at the site as well but being so young there are rarely any skeletal remains.



Thornton Abby photo by David Wright



DNA extracted from the teeth of some of the remains contained DNA from the strain of the Black Death plague matching samples taken from mass graves in London. This discovery potentially rewrites what experts knew about life at the time of the plague’s outbreak leading those who discovered the remains to theorize that people left cities and gone to rural communities seeking treatment. From 1348 to 1349 half of England’s population died from the plague that tore through Europe from 1346 to 1353.

More detailed information about the mass grave can be found here.

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