Search

Amateur archeologists dig up ancient black death burial ground in Clerkenwell

12:04 24 July 2014

Volunteers hard at work

Volunteers hard at work

Archant

Amateur archeologists digging up an ancient burial ground where victims of the black death were laid to rest may have found evidence of a 600-year-old monastery.

A total of 25 plague victims were dug up at the site in Charterhouse Square, Clerkenwell, last year during work for the Crossrail project, but experts believe there could be more skeletons in the mass grave.

The new dig is to uncover evidence of a Carthusian monastery built in the 1400s to pray for victims of the bubonic plague, which killed 100million as it swept across Europe, and 90 volunteers were picked to help the team.

Nick Elsdon, from Museum of London Archaeology who is managing the project, said: “What we have found here is a medieval surface.

“What we can’t tell is whether it’s a courtyard or just a path.

“There is a good chance the kitchens and grounds are somewhere nearby. Because the Carthusians were vegetarians the meat kitchens were outside the monastery.

“We know it’s somewhere in the square but unfortunately we don’t know where.”

Maps from the 1600s clearly show a building in the square, while a team from Keele University have used radar imagery to detect possible remains several feet below the current surface.

“We wanted to dig in slightly different position,” said Mr Eldson. “But Islington Council wouldn’t let us because of the protected trees in the square.

“There is a chance what was detected by the radar is just demolished rubble. It’s was always an option.”

Joanna Cronin, one of the volunteers, said: “Although everything we find is fairly low key, you can’t help but be amazed by the history. I always apply for things like this but never get picked so I can’t believe how lucky we are.

Fellow digger Mary-Anne Brouckaert said: “Every single thing we touch is from the 14th century, which makes you think

’wow’. My children always play in the square and are really interested - they keep asking lots of questions.

Debbie Guiness, who has just qualified to be a Clerkenwell and Islington history guide, said: “It’s such a fascinating part of the world and it’s great to be able to learn more about it.”

The dig is scheduled to end on Saturday.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 10:36
The Whittington TB department celebrated their first birthday this month

Tuberculosis team at the Whittington hospital open for a year

Saturday, May 23, 2015
The Islington-based Deborah Hutton Campaign has scooped an award

Campaign - named after Vogue health editor Deborah Hutton - takes gong

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Prof Patel

The borough’s annual Word Festival kicks off this month with a focus on the power of the written and spoken word to boost mental health and wellbeing.

Saturday, May 23, 2015
Cllr Richard Greening has been sworn in as Islington's new mayor

Cllr Richard Greening named as 51st modern mayor of borough

Most read news

Competitions

You could take in stunning views of London over brunch at the Sky Garden

Celebrate lighter, brighter days with the chance of winning an indulgent brunch for two with a bottle of bubbles at Darwin, the cool and casual brasserie 36 floors up at Sky Garden.

Time to experience the dizzy heights of London's tallest attraction!

Morgan Pryce, commercial property experts based in London are offering one lucky reader the chance to win a pair of tickets to The Shard viewing platform in the city itself.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the Islington Gazette e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24


Our trusted business finder