Black Death burial pit found by archaeologists at English 14th-century abbey

An "extremely rare" mass grave containing 48 victims of the Black Death has been found at the site of a 14th-century monastery hospital in northeast England, archaeologists said Wednesday. The grim discovery by the University of Sheffield at Thornton Abbey in Lincolnshire included the skeletons of 27 children, as well as men and women. The bones were carbon-dated to the mid-1300s when the Black Death -- one of the most deadly pandemics in human history -- is estimated to have wiped out up to 60 percent of Europe's population. DNA tests revealed the presence of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the disease, previously only identified at two 14th-century cemeteries in London set up to bury large numbers of urban dead, the university said. "Despite the fact it is now estimated that up to half the population of England perished during the Black Death, multiple graves associated with the event are extremely rare in this country," said Hugh Willmott from the University of Sheffi

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