Was the Crossrail Site the Location of a Gruesome Human Sacrifice?

By Tom Pritchard on at

It's no secret that there's a bunch of stuff hidden underneath London's Crossrail tunnels, including an awful lot of human remains. Now a new discovery offers a much grimmer explanation of where some of them might have come from.

A number of skulls have been found in the river during excavations, and it was assumed that river erosion knocked them out of a Roman cemetery by accident. But one little cooking pot has thrown that idea into question, because it was found containing cremated human bones and appears to have been deliberately placed by the river.

According to Jay Carver, Crossrail's lead archaeologist, the 2,000-year old pot's deliberate placing will mean archaeologists will have to go back and take a closer look at findings from previous excavations in the area.

One hypothesis is that the skulls are designed as ritual deposits, deliberately placed around the river bank as some sort of offering or boundary marker. It's thought that some of the skulls may well be from executed criminals and rebels, and it's hoped that ongoing DNA testing will help confirm this.

Earlier finds have discovered skulls from 40 humans and two horses, but apparently counting back everything from the past two hundred years and it turns out hundreds of skulls have been discovered in a very small area. Clearly something went on, and Carver and his team are going to try and get to the bottom of it. [The Guardian]

Image: LONDON, 10 APRIL 2015: Section of new rail tunnel, under construction for the London Crossrail Project at North Woolwich, London, England, UK by Paul Daniels via Shutterstock