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14th century cemetery – Phase II & III

Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft_68220
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The second phase of burials at Charterhouse Square took place later in the 14th century. This second phase of burials contained two adult males. This phase of the cemetery had been disturbed by later burials. They were buried on the same alignment as the earlier burials. Yersinia pestis was found in one skeleton.

The final phase of the cemetery dated to the 15th century and uncovered 12 adult burials. Yersinia pestis was found in two of the skeletons. They were all buried on a west-east axis with their heads to the west. Two of the burials were in the same grave and may have been related.

Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft
Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft
Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft
Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft
Skeletons of Black Death victims found during construction of Charterhouse Square grout shaft

How did people get the Black Death?

The plague, or Black Death, was most frequently spread by the bite of infected fleas. It killed 60-70% of the people who caught it.

In just two years, between 1348 and 1350, the disease killed around half the population of London.

The Black Death was the largest pandemic in history, killing millions of people as it swept across Europe in the early 14th Century.

The disease’s devastation across Europe provided Britain with warning of the impending disaster and London’s leaders purchased additional ground outside the city walls for a burial ground in preparation for the Black Death’s arrival. This orderly planning may be evident in the burials themselves, with the skeletons neatly laid out in Christian burials rather than being placed in mass graves.

London’s first Black Death plague cemetery was found in the 1980s in east Smithfield.