Mass Burial Pit in London Connected to Volcanic Eruption

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The discovery of a massive east London burial pit at Spitalfields market in the 1990s was originally said to have been caused by the Black Death or Great Famine of 1315-1317. Turns out, those original declarations were wrong by around a century. New evidence, like radiocarbon dating of the bones, instead links the deaths of the 10,500 medieval skeletons to a massive volcanic event that happened thousands of miles away in 1258.

The actual location of the volcano has yet to be determined though the likely suspects include places like Mexico and Indonesia. The eruption was on a catastrophic scale, causing a Little Ice Age that cooled the Earth by as much as four degrees Celsius. As the world cooled, crops died. When the crops died, people went hungry. Disease ran amok and the healthy avoided helping lest the pestilence spread to them. Essentially, it was the kind of scenario we make apocalyptic movies about today.

The mass grave was excavated between 1991 and 2007 by the Museum of London Archaeology. Given that the area was the site of an Augustinian priory and hospital of St Mary Spital, some graves were expected. The total number of remains ended up around 10,500 with an estimate of up to 18,000 having originally been interred there. If they’re all dated to the same time, that’s a massive chunk of England’s population being put into the ground.

Nature and humanity often have conflicting ideas as to what should happen going forward. The conflict is a bloody one at times.

(The Guardian via reddit, image credit via Walter Lim)

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