National Geographic reported on Friday that tunnelers who were contracted with expanding the London Underground have discovered over 20 Roman-era skulls, probably dated to the first century C.E. The beheaded Romans have been suggested to be possible victims of the famed Warrior Queen Boudicca, who led her Iceni tribe in a rebellion against Roman rule.
Speaking with National Geographic about possibility of the Romans being victims of Queen Boudica, archaeologist and discovery team member Don Walker said “It has been suggested that previous finds of skulls dating to this period may belong to victims of the rebellion… Even if this was part of a massacre, and there is no evidence that it was, it would be difficult to link it directly to the Boudicca rebellion. Of course, we will keep an open mind for now.”
The skulls were discovered roughly 20 feet underneath Liverpool Street as part of a $23 billion engineering project conducted by Crossrail. The workers uncovered the find as they dug through dirt containing ancient sediments from the Walbrook River, a dried up tributary of the Thames River. Archaeologists believe the artifacts collected in a riverbend they washed downstream from a burial ground.
The Roman skulls are not the only artifacts uncovered by the Crossrail project. Finds include a 9000-year-old Mesolithic “tool factory,” medieval plague pits, and a 16th century graveyard related to the infamous mental asylum, Bedlam Hospital. The artifacts will be donated to the Museum of London and the Natural History Museum for Londoners to study and enjoy.
When asked about the Roman skulls’ origins, Walker had several comments. “It is never a surprise to find the remains of burials in London! The size of the city and its long history mean that you are never very far away from a burial ground, whether it be Roman or later,” he said.
“However, whilst we knew that we would encounter burials from the 16th-century Bedlam burial ground, it was not at all certain whether Roman graves would turn up. he added. “The sheer number of skulls we have found, currently more than two dozen, has indeed surprised us.”