Copyright Dr. Elizabeth Garner All Rights Reserved

Millions of feet have tramped unwittingly above them through the years; thousands of tons of earth and rubble concealed their grave.

But yesterday it was hoped that the DNA within the nine sets of remains would unlock a mystery that has baffled and divided medical minds for generations: what caused the Black Death in 1348?

The bodies are believed to have been among the 1.5million Britons who died when the plague swept through Europe.

Around a third of the population of Britain died in the Black Death. Estimates of how many perished in Europe and elsewhere vary between 25million and 200million, making it the grimmest and most destructive pandemic in human history.


Scientific tests on the skeletons to establish their cause of death, whether they were plague victims from the 14th century or later residents, how old they were and perhaps evidence of who they were, will be done.

‘However, at this early stage all points towards this being part of the 14th-century emergency burial ground.’

DNA analysis of European victims has suggested that the Yersinia pestis bacterium (SYPHILIS) was responsible, but many scientists believe the infection was a rapidly-spreading virus.

Now DNA experts are working with archaeologists at the Farringdon site to try to identify the exact cause from bone samples.

Once analysis is complete, the skeletons will be reburied on the site or at a cemetery.


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