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The plague that killed 200 million

As world worries about coronavirus, archaeologists find mass grave of 48 victims of the Black Death victims that decimated Europe

It has been over 650 years since the Black Death spread through Europe, but archaeologist are still finding haunting reminders of its rampage. A mass grave of 48 skeletons was recently discovered at the site of a 14th century monastery hospital at Thornton Abbey, Lincolnshire

A new reminder of the Black Death plague that decimated Europe has been unearthed in a Lincolnshire burial site - the remains of dozens of people wiped out 650 years ago.

As the world focuses on the spread of coronavirus, the archaeologists' discoveries shed terrifying new light on the humanitarian disaster that befell the world in the 14th century.

A mass grave containing 48 skeletons, including 27 children, was found on the site of a former monastery hospital at Thornton Abbey. 

Scientists have been working at the site since 2011 but the number of bodies it contains has only recently become clear. 

In addition to the skeletal remains, a Tau Cross pendant was found at the scene that was believed to have treated St. Anthony's fire – a skin condition that made victims feel as if their limbs were on fire.

The Black Death, which ravaged Europe from 1346 to 1353, was caused by a bacterium called Yersinia pestis that can cause several forms of plague and can be transmitted to humans by fleas.

Black rats, which were abundant along trade routes, acted as carriers of the plague when fleas hitched a ride on their backs.

It is estimated, that some 200 million people lost their lives to this horrific plague that spread across Europe and Asia.

The disease is widely thought to have arrived in Europe after being transported from the plains of central Asia via Crimea transported on merchant ships. 

The Black Death is estimated to have killed 30 to 60 per cent of Europe's population and in total, the plague could have reduced the world population from an around 475 million to between 350 to 375 million in the 14th century.

Such a large burial ground at Thornton Abbey suggests the community was all but wiped out by the sheer number of plague victims, scientists said. 

Researchers believe that victims of the Black Death fled the overcrowded cities and overwhelmed hospitals in Lincolnshire, only to die at the abbey and its hospital shortly after arriving. 

Dr Hugh Willmott from the University of Sheffield's Department of Archaeology, has been working on the excavation site in Lincolnshire since 2011. 

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