Thousands of bodies dug up by Highways England during £355m roadworks

·3-min read
Workers on the A63 are helping to excavate the site.
Workers on the A63 are helping to excavate the site.

Highways England is digging up a burial ground dating back to the 1700s as part of £355m roadworks in Hull, East Yorkshire.

It’s believed more than 9,000 bodies are buried at the site, which is being investigated by archaeologists as workers on the A63 build a new underpass.

An 80-strong team of experts have already exhumed thousands of skeletons from the burial ground, which was in use during the Industrial Revolution between 1783 and 1861, Hull's boom years.

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The team have also unearthed a treasure trove of artefacts, including jewellery, cooking utensils and coins.

One item, which has been sent away for testing, is a sealed blue bottle marked "Hull Infirmary" that contains a mysterious brown liquid.

Jewellery has been found at the site.
Jewellery has been found at the site.

So far, around a third of the skeletons recovered from the site are from children aged 18 and under.

The team are carefully excavating them and carrying out examinations before logging the information.

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Highways England says each skeleton is kept together while being looked at, and that individual bones are being carefully cleaned with specialist toothbrushes to allow for detailed examination.

Once the relevant groundworks have been completed, the bodies will be reburied on the same site, which was called Trinity Burial Ground.

The project began in 2015 and will end this summer.

Workers on the A63 are building a new motorway underpass in the city of Hull, East Yorkshire.
Workers on the A63 are building a new motorway underpass in the city of Hull, East Yorkshire.

The burial ground was in use at a time when the population of Hull was rapidly expanding.

It has been found that individuals were buried in different sections depending on their wealth, with richer people located further away from the city centre.

The archaeologists have also discovered 40 children were buried there after the site was closed.

Artifacts have been found at the site in Hull.
Artefacts have been found.

At this stage, it’s not known how or why they came to be there, Highways England said.

The company is encouraging Hull locals to get in touch, saying it will pass on any information it has about people’s potential ancestors.

It also described the project as a “unique” opportunity to examine the people of Hull and hopes to create a record that will last forever.

One item, which has been sent away for testing, is a sealed blue bottle marked 'Hull Infirmary', which contains a mysterious brown liquid inside it.
One item, which has been sent away for testing, is a sealed blue bottle marked 'Hull Infirmary' that contains a mysterious brown liquid.

Fran Oliver, assistant project manager, said: “The quest to piece together the history of Hull has been incredible so far, revealing intriguing clues from the past.

“Our archaeologists, carrying out the city’s largest-ever archaeological dig, have already found a wealth of information about the lives of society at a time when the population was rapidly expanding, as commercial and industrial activity intensified in the 18th and 19th century.”

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Trinity Burial Ground is located on the south side of Castle Street, one of the busiest roads in Hull.

Highways England is carrying out the work alongside Oxford Archaeology, Humber Field Archaeology, Hull City Council, Historic England, Humber Archaeology Partnership and Hull Minster.

Later this month site workers are expected to start recording the underground footings of an 18th-century jail that once stood at a corner of the site.

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