Crossrail skeleton and 55million-year-old Isle of Dogs amber go on show

A Medieval skeleton uncovered beneath Liverpool Street station and rare pieces of amber which had been buried beneath the Isle of Dogs for 55 million years are among finds from Crossrail excavations going on public show on Saturday.

The skeleton was unearthed earlier this year with 300 others from Bedlam Hospital’s burial ground, used between 1569 and the mid-18th Century for patients and local residents. Archaeologists have confirmed there are up to 4,000 complete skeletons at the site.

The amber fragments were uncovered last year at Crossrail’s Canary Wharf station site.

“This was like finding a large diamond on the beach,” said geotechnical archaeologist Dr Ursula Lawrence.

“Most amber is under the chalk level, unlike this one which was just 50ft below the dock bed at Canary Wharf.”


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The amber is to be analysed to determine which kind of tree it came from to reveal the environment at the time, as well as gas bubbles inside the amber which will offer scientists an chance to study conditions 55 million years ago.

Other finds giving a glimpse of London life through the ages include engineering workshops uncovered from the historic Thames Iron and Shipbuilding works at Blackwall, the world’s first shipyard producing iron ships which closed in 1912. Wreckage from an early Thames barge believed to be 13th Century has also been unearthed, while other finds in the City include Roman artefacts, medieval ceramic wig curlers, 17th Century gravestone markers and skates made from animal bone.

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All items are being donated to the Museum of London or the Natural History Museum after Saturday’s exhibition at Grays Antiques in South Molton Street, Mayfair, 10am to 5pm.

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