Built upon Bones

Digs & Discoveries January/February 2016

(Getty Images, Photo: Dan Kitwood)

When King Henry III’s (A.D. 1216–1272) workers began the monumental foundations for a Gothic-style Westminster Abbey, they encountered burials dating to early periods in the abbey’s history. They stockpiled the remains and reburied them in charnel deposits in an area that was likely a monastic burial ground. Now excavations in preparation for the building of a new Gothic-style tower have rediscovered these bones, as well as 19 other burials in both cist graves and coffins, under a Victorian-era drainpipe. The burials likely date to between A.D. 1000 and 1250, and will provide important evidence of early medieval life at the abbey.

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    (Courtesy Michael Hoff)
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    (Wikimedia Commons, Rod Waddington)
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    Reading the Invisible Ink

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    (Images by Lazarus Project / MegaVision / RIT / EMEL, Courtesy Beinecke Library, Yale University)
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