As I mentioned at the end of my last blog, I was lucky enough to have inherited a very well – preserved skeleton Context: 1436 from Liz, who chose the wrong day to be ill (by this I mean I took over from her, I didn’t dig the grave in which she would be entombed). After carefully following the skull down and uncovering the ribs, I discovered just how well preserved this skeleton was, with practically all the bones present.


Inhumation (1436)

In most of the grave excavations that I have witnessed, the ribs have been either badly degraded or in complete disarray. These ones however, were very nicely laid out, and were probably a male, judging from his strapping 6” frame. Apart from this, there were a few other differences between this grave and all the others that we have found. The grave cut was slightly larger than normal. Despite this, the head also was pressed up against the side of the cut, as if the body had not been laid with due care. However, the most interesting of these differences was the fact that two large stones were found over on top of the legs, just above the knees.


The stones on the knees of Gary’s skeleton

We can’t be sure they were deliberately placed there; they could have been placed on top of a wooden coffin, which then rotted away allowing the stones to fall on top of the body. Very few nails were found in the fill of the grave, which would suggest that the body was buried in a shroud. This may help explain why the body looked uncomfortable. There was a lack of preserved grave goods in the fill, but a large amount of broken pieces of pottery which did not seem to bear any relation to each other, which in itself is very peculiar for a grave fill.

Aside from this mystery, life on site has been continuing as normal. We have been working with the Society of Thames Mudlarks, a group of people who use metal detectors to ensure that we don’t miss any interesting metal finds. They search the spoil that we have excavated, and occasionally newly uncovered areas, for artifacts. As ‘finds guy’, I have the pleasure of seeing these things as they come out of the ground. They range massively, from 19th Century pieces of chain to well preserved Roman coins. One of the most interesting artefacts was a copper alloy token, which seems to mark some kind of Roman victory over the Germans, maybe not a million miles away from what’s currently happening in Beijing….