Burial Site Crossrail: London Construction Crew Unearths 4,000 Bodies At Site Of 16th-Century ‘Bedlam’ Mental Asylum [PHOTOS]

By Philip Ross on August 8, 2013 4:44 PM EDT

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Archaeologists dig out skeletons from the site of the graveyard of the Bethlehem, or Bedlam, hospital next to Liverpool Street Station in London. The dig is on the site of the future ticket hall for the Crossrail station at Liverpool Street. (Photo: Reuters)
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A burial site at a Crossrail dig in London. (Photo: Reuters)
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A burial site at a Crossrail dig in London. (Photo: Reuters)

A burial site at a Crossrail dig in London turned up more than construction crew bargained for. Hidden under layers and layers of earth near Liverpool Street Station were 4,000 bodies, left undisturbed for centuries. The burial site at Crossrail probably belongs to Bethlehem Mental Asylum, a 16th-century mental institution whose horrific history gave us the word "bedlam."

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According to The BBC, the burial site at Crossrail dig is one of London's biggest burial sites ever found. And the gruesome discovery may not be over; archaeologists believe there may be thousands more remains at the burial site.  

The Crossrail project is a massive construction project happening now in London. Crews are expanding the commuter and suburban rail system in the city with the goal of providing high-frequency passenger service. The project consists of building 42km of new tunnels, which will run from Paddington Station in central London to Stratford.

The new Crossrail network is expected to create a faster route from west to east London and is slated to open sometime in 2018.

And with all that digging, they're sure to overturn an interesting artifact or two. In a city with centuries and centuries of history and development, it's bound to happen every now and then. The burial site at the Crossrail dig is about as exciting as it gets.

"Everyone's been running around in Liverpool Street for years and not thinking that they've been walking around on bodies from one of the densest burial grounds in London," Nick Elsden, an archaeologist with the Museum of London, told Metro. "This site is a rare, perhaps unprecedented opportunity."

The dig where construction crew discovered the 4,000 bodies is on the site of a future ticket office.

This isn't the first burial site unearthed during construction of London's new Crossrail system. In March, thirteen skeletons were uncovered on the edge of Charterhouse Square at Farrington. Archaeologists believe the skeletons, which were laid in two carefully placed rows, are around 660 years old. They are believed to be the bodies of victims of the Black Death from the 14th century.

Read more from iScience Times:

Mayan Frieze Found Below Ancient Guatemalan Pyramid Depicts Images Of Centuries-Old Gods And Rulers [REPORT]

Boy Finds Mummy In Germany: Did Alexander Kettler Discover An Authentic Ancient Egyptian Corpse?

Ancient Cave Art Unearthed: Where Did Mexico's 5,000 Paintings Come From?

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