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Skulls unearthed by Crossrail tunnel reveal Roman history

Construction work on a utility tunnel for Crossrail at Liverpool Street station has revealed the area’s Roman past with the discovery of 20 skulls at the site.

Archaeologists working with Crossrail will remove 3,000 skeletons from the 16th Century Bedlam burial ground next year but the new finds lie below this level and are much older.

The human skulls and Roman pottery were found in the sediment from a historic channel of the River Woolbrook 6m below ground.

“This is an unexpected and fascinating discovery that reveals another piece in the jigsaw of London’s history,” said Crossrail lead archaeologist Jay Carver. “This isn’t the first time that skulls have been found in the bed of the River Walbrook and many early historians suggested these people were killed during the Boudicca rebellion against the Romans.

“We now think the skulls are possibly from a known Roman burial ground about 50m up river from our Liverpool Street station worksite. Their location in the Roman layer indicates they were possibly washed down river during the Roman period.”

Crossrail’s contractor, Museum of London Archaeology, will analyse the finds over the coming months and hope to find out more about the age, sex and diet of the people associated with the Roman skulls.

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