Archaeologists working with London's Crossrail project have discovered a cluster of about 20 skulls below a 16th century Roman cemetery along the lost River Walbrook, a historic tributary of Thames.
The skulls were located up to six metres below ground. The location of the skulls in a cluster at such a low level suggests that they were likely eroded by River Walbrook from the cemetery that is located under Eldon Street in the Liverpool Street area.
"We now think the skulls are possibly from a known Roman burial ground about 50 metres up river from our Liverpool Street station worksite. Their location in the Roman layer indicates they were possibly washed down river during the Roman period," lead archaeologist Jay Carver said in a statement.
Archaeologists speculate that the skulls are a part of the 3,000 skeletons that are believed to lie buried in the Bedlam burial ground and are probably of those whose heads were decapitated by Queen Boudicca's rebels in the 1st Century AD during the uprising against Roman occupation.
"This is an unexpected and fascinating discovery that reveals another piece in the jigsaw of London's history. This isn't the first time that skulls have been found in the bed of the River Walbrook and many early historians suggested these people were killed during the Boudicca rebellion against the Romans," Carver added.
Archaeologists said that the 3,000 skeletons will be carefully excavated and relocated from the Roman Bedlam burial site next year.
Crossrail construction has revealed myriad archaeological finds ever since the project began in 2009. Over 10,000 archaeological items have been found across 40 construction sites. Some of these items include 150 pieces of a 9,000-year-old flint found at North Woolwich, and a sixteenth century gold coin found at Liverpool Street.