Skip to comments.Archaeologists Discover 20,000 ‘Lost Souls of Bedlam’ Under London Streets
Posted on 08/11/2013 10:31:09 AM PDT by Renfield
Established in 1247, the notorious Bethlem (Bedlam) Royal Hospital was the first dedicated psychiatric institution in Europe and possibly the most famous specialist facility for care and control of the insane, so much so that the word bedlam has long been synonymous with madness and chaos. Now, in a spectacular discovery, archaeologists have uncovered the asylums ancient graveyard right in the heart of London, revealing as many as 20,000 skeletons.
The 500-year-old graveyard was found during excavations to create a 13-mile high speed tunnel under Central London. Modern-day residents and visitors going about their busy daily lives have been oblivious to the fact that below them, under what is now Liverpool Street Station, the remains of thousands of Londoners including many patients from the Bedlam asylum were laid to rest.
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, said Nick Elsden, a Museum of London archaeologist.
The 16th-century burial ground was built on the original site of the Bethlem Hospital and as well as serving the hospital itself, it was also used to relieve the pressure from overcrowded cemeteries throughout London. It was particularly associated with religious non-conformists, as it was not attached to a church. One of the more famous individuals thought to be buried there is Robert Lockyer, a member of the radical Leveller movement, who was executed by firing squad at St Paul's Cathedral after leading an army mutiny in 1649. Archaeologists are hoping to find his remains amongst the 20,000 other individuals buried there.
The remains of around 4,000 people will have to be disinterred, and will be studied for clues about their lifestyle before being reburied elsewhere.
But thousands of bodies are not the only items to have been recovered from the dig. Incredibly, archaeologists have found everything from reindeer and mammoth bones dating back 68,000 years to a Mesolithic tool-making facility, numerous 2,000-year-old horseshoes, an entire stretch of Roman road, the remains of a Tudor manor house, medieval ice skates, an 800-year-old piece of a ship, and rare Roman coins.
'This site is a rare, perhaps unprecedented opportunity,' Mr Elsden said. 'This is a major roadway outside one of London's busiest railway stations. You don't get to dig that up normally.'
“a 13-mile high speed tunnel under Central London.”
What is this? I’m confused.
Oh, there’s a spooky Hollywood script in this!
There are a few people missing on my family tree. Could somebody over there keep a watch for them?
I’m sure the contractors building Crossrail are thrilled to have their schedule interrupted by what could be a very long archaeological dig, by the sound of it.
Boris Karloff, 1946.
Exactly! Too spooky for me. Yikes! I have a BS in Psychology so I’m intrigued by the discoveries and the history but can’t help think about the eeriness of what they’re working with. ooooOOOOOOoooooOOOOOO! :^)
It might be interesting if the Brit’s were to setup a few HD CCTV’s to live-stream these diggings. If not maybe we can get the NSA to live-stream it.
And to imagine that metropolitan areas the world over have all sorts of like things buried just under the ground.
Yep...all the insane dead wake up, turn into Zombies, and run for Parliament. And win.
I have an issue of the National Geographic with a large feature dedicated to the miles of labyrinthine catacombs beneath the streets of Paris.
An excavation...mysterious skeletons...somehow, this rings a bell.
I have an interesting story regarding that.
I have a friend who is a Bohemian-starving-artist type (although I haven’t seen him in years). One day back in the mid-1980s I dropped by his house to see him. He had recently moved into that house after living for years with another friend of mine.
Upon entering his home, I noticed a human skull on the mantle....a real one, not a reproduction. I asked him for the story behind it.
“That’s my uncle”, he replied. It seems that the state of KY had decided to build a new big road right past Eastern State Mental Hospital, and in the process of construction, had uncovered the “pauper’s graveyard” associated with the facility. One day, out of the blue, my friend received a call from an employee of the KY Dept. of transportation, informing him that they had his uncle’s remains, and that as the next of kin, those remains were my friend’s responsibility. He took possession of the skull, and had them dispose of the, er, remainder of the remains.
a 13-mile, high speed tunnel, under Central London.
Ten patients, he said, were at that moment in chains, and we may be sure that the number was much larger before public feeling had been aroused to demand investigation. "The ultimatum of our restraint," said Mr. Haslam, "is manacles, and a chain round the leg, or being chained by one arm; the strait waistcoat, for the best of reasons, is never employed by us." Mr. Haslam, when asked whether a violent patient could be safely trusted when his fist and wrists were chained, replied, "Then he would be an innoxious animal." Patients, however, were frequently chained to the wall in addition to being manacled.
A much more detailed article, with photos, is here:
I saw “20,000 skeletons discovered under London” and thought it referring to victims of socialized medicine.
Descriptions most likely was the site of a garbage dump.
How do you examine a 750-yr.-old skeleton and determine he/she was a mental patient?
Ah! The writer has had his comma removed! Hope it wasn’t a painful operation, and I pray that he makes a complete recovery!
That would probably be an improvement. Can we make that happen in D.C. too.
20,000 skeletons discovered under London
Suddenly I can’t get the sound of multiple xylophones with really fast hammering on ‘dem chimes, out of my head.
Bedlam was moved to a new building in Moorfields in 1676.
While touring the Imperial War Museum, I couldn't help thing of the poor devils who spent time there.
For to see my Tom of Bedlam, 10,000 miles I’d travel
Mad Maudlin goes on dirty toes, to save her shoes from gravel.
Still I sing bonnie boys, bonnie mad boys,
Bedlam boys are bonnie
For they all go bare and they live by the air,
And they want no drink nor money.
I went down to Satin’s kitchen, for to beg me food one morning
There I got souls piping hot, all on the spit a turning.
There I picked up a cauldron, Where boiled 10,000 harlots
Though full of flame I drank the same, to the health of all such varlets.
My staff has murdered giants, my bag a long knife carries
For to cut mince pies from children’s thighs, with which to feed the fairies.
Spirits white as lightning, shall on my travels guide me
The moon would quake and the stars would shake, when’ ere they espied me.
No gypsy slut nor doxy, shall win my Mad Tom from me
I’ll weep all night, the stars I’ll fight, the fray will well become me.
It’s when next I have murdered, the Man-In-The-Moon to powder
His staff I’ll break, his dog I’ll bake, they’ll howl no demon louder.
So drink to Tom of Bedlam, he’ll fill the seas in barrels
I’ll drink it all, all brewed with gall, with Mad Maudlin I will travel.
I have sung that song many times, as my Morris side gathered over pints of ale.
Tom of Bedlam
Read the article. It says you can't determine mental illness in a skeleton. As well there's no burial records.
“...to create a 13-mile, high-speed tunnel under Central London.”
See my post #22
Oh! Beaten to the punch again. Sigh... Thanks.
Wake me up when they find a Dairy Queen.
As long as they aren't digging near Hobbs End.
Extra points to the first to cite the reference...
I'm a bit slow on the uptake today, and was envisioning somebody drinking ale while Morris dancing. I did eventually figure out that you were just talking about part of your family. May you and your "Morris side" sing forever, with glasses full. Cheers Renfield!
An excellent version for my collection. Thank you Fatima!
I saw 20,000 skeletons discovered under London and thought it referring to victims of socialized medicine.....Actually, it is. Philadelphia State Hospital was originally built back in the 1600’s as a farm to put drunks, Indians and retards out of the way of ‘normal’ society. They were chained, worked as slaves and many other sanctioned abuses. The farmer picked them up and took them to work which gave them a modicum of worth. Didn’t cost the taxpayer much until the Dems hired Union workers in the ‘60’s. The level of care and living conditions actually decreased then. Modern medicine (used facetiously) didn’t catch up in Philly State ever since that happened. A famous movie starlet had her daughter put in there ( I want to say Olivia Dehaviland, but I can’t be sure. I saw the records 30 years ago)and she was raped continuosley by the staff.
I was going for 5 Million Years to Earth, but Quatermass and the Pit was plenty close enough.
Thanks for the depressing glimpse of our medical past — and likely future under Obamacare :-)
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.