Sites of unknown dates collection

Crania of unknown date from London

Crania of unknown date from London

These remains were found at various locations throughout London, predominantly during building works.

As a consequence often little was recorded about the context of the remains.

These remains therefore cannot be easily assigned to a chronological period until they are directly dated.

Origins of the collection

Human remains are often encountered during building works throughout the capital - it was only around 150 years ago that burial ceased to occur in central London.

The remains in this collection were either donated directly to the Natural History Museum or transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons.

Bishopsgate

PA SK 1545

Cranium found while digging the foundations for a new building in Bishopsgate, eastern central London.

  • MNI: 1. Adult female.
  • Pathology present: the teeth have dental calculus on the lingual surfaces and linear enamel hypoplasias are present on the canines and incisors. There are no other visible pathologies.
  • Donated by: presented by R Henslowe Wellington Esq. to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1914 and received by the Natural History Museum in 1948 (FC Addn. 409.12).
Cranium from Bishopsgate

Cranium from Bishopsgate

Cateaton Street

PA SK 1560

Cranium found while cutting a sewer in Cateaton Street, London - this name no longer exists. Cateaton Street was described in 1831 as running from the north end of Milk Street to Old Jewry, parallel to Cheapside, eastern central London.

  • MNI: 1. Adult, ambiguous sex.
  • Pathology present: No evidence of pathological changes.
  • Donated by: The cranium was formerly in the collection of Mr. E.B. Price, FSA. (died around 1852), then Barnard Davis’ Collection (Barnard Davis's Catalogue vol (60) 39 ).
    The cranium was transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons to the Natural History Museum in 1948. 
Cranium from Cateaton Street

Cranium from Cateaton Street

Fleet Street

PA SK 1557

An incomplete cranium was found at a depth of about three metres below the surface of the middle of Fleet Street, eastern central London, around 275 metres east of the Law Courts. This brings us to the Church of St Dunstan-in-the-West. Until its demolition and rebuilding in 1829-34, the church projected into Fleet Street and took about nine metres of the width of the present roadway and pavement.

The adjoining site at the corner of Chancery Lane had been widened about 30 years earlier. As the earliest maps of this quarter of London show the north side of Fleet Street as running straight, we may assume that the southern half of this roadway is the ancient way leading to the ford across the River Fleet (at Ludgate Circus), and that the northern half has been taken into it since mediaeval times.

The earliest mention of St Dunstan-in-the-West is from 1237, but the church was probably in existence to a much earlier date. It had a churchyard, remains of which have been found beyond the Public Record Office in Fetter Lane, and on part of which the present St Dunstan's was built when set back in 1832. While the majority of the graves lay to the north of the church, it is possible that a few may have lain on the south side in the narrow strip. This strip, in the earliest part of its existence, probably separated the church from the narrow road occupying the southern part of the present roadway.

The depth at which the calvaria was found points to the conclusion that if it was associated with the Christian church it dates from the early part of the church's history, when the ground surface was some 1.8-2.1 metres lower than at present -  perhaps Christian Saxon or early Norman times, but maybe considerably earlier.

MNI: 1. Adult female.

Pathology present:  no evident pathological changes.  

Donated by: purchased in 1923 by the Royal College of Surgeons and later transferred to the Natural History Museum in 1948 (FC addn. 327.1).

Incomplete cranium from Fleet Street

Incomplete cranium from Fleet Street

Greenwich

PA SK 4243

Cranium dug up at Greenwich, at a depth of 1.2 metres below gravel.

MNI: 1. Adult female.

Pathology present: small benign button osteoma on the left parietal.

Donated by: transferred from University College London by Dr N Barnicot.

Incomplete cranium from Greenwich

Incomplete cranium from Greenwich

Hackney Wick

PA SK 4177

Right frontal bone discovered in Holocene gravel in Hackney Wick.

MNI: 1. Unknown age and sex.

Pathology present: no visible pathologies.

Donated by: originally part of the S H Warren Collection, then purchased by the Museum in 1936.

Frontal bone fragment from Hackney Wick

Frontal bone fragment from Hackney Wick

Isle of Dogs

PA SK 939

Cranium dug up in the Isle of Dogs, London. Perhaps post-medieval in date.

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present:  low density and healing porosity[link to metabolic disease blog] in orbits and healed porosity[link to metabolic disease blog] on the frontal bone. The individual also suffered from poor dental health[link to dental disease blog], evident from abscessing and bone loss throughout the maxilla.

Donated by: presented by Captain E L Gruning in 1914, then transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons.

Cranium from Isle of Dogs.

Cranium from Isle of Dogs. Bone resorption from ante mortem tooth loss can be clearly seen at the rear of the maxilla.

Lewisham

PA SK 1544

Calvarium found in chalk at Lewisham.

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present:  increased porosity and vascularity[link to metabolic disease blog] on the endocranial surface, and the cranium is unusually narrow.

Donated by: by George Busk, Esq. in 1865, then transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons.

 

Endocranial surface of incomplete cranium from Lewisham

Endocranial surface of incomplete cranium from Lewisham

Lloyds Insurance Building

PA SK 4046

A right femur was found in the foundations of the Lloyds Insurance Building on Leadenhall Street in around 1925.

  • MNI: 1, adult female, based on femoral head width and bicondylar width (following Bass).
  • Pathology present:  there are no visible pathologies.
  • Donated by: H D Hopwood.
Femur found under the Lloyds Insurance Building

Femur found under the Lloyds Insurance Building

Mayfair

PA SK 1550

Cranium found while digging the foundations of 2 Audley Street, Mayfair in 1878.

MNI: 1. Adult of ambiguous sex.

Pathology present: mild erosion on of the mandibular fossae of both temporomandibular joints, suggestive of arthritis[link to degenerative disease blog]. 

Donated by: presented by Harold Russell in 1921, then transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons in 1948 (FC addn. 325.4).

Cranium from Mayfair

Cranium from Mayfair

Queen Victoria Street

PA SK 4180

This cranium was discovered while digging for foundations on Queen Victoria St, and subsequently kept in a cupboard at Messrs Spiers and Ponds Stores.

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present: no visible pathologies.

Donated by: came into possession of donor A Hammond around 1903, who presented it to the Museum in March 1923.

Cranium from Queen Victoria Street

Cranium from Queen Victoria Street

Smithfield

PA SK 4159

Fragmented skull found in Cock Lane, Smithfield, at a depth of 4.5 metres in December 1909.

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present: extensive tooth wear [link to dental disease blog].

Donated by: transferred from the Royal College of Surgeons (F Corner Collection). 

Maxilla with extensive tooth wear from Smithfield

Maxilla with extensive tooth wear from Smithfield

St Paul's Churchyard

PA SK 1566

Left femur recovered from the north-east side of St Paul's churchyard - no depth given. Sir Christopher Wren stated that he found graves of the Saxon and Roman periods below the more recent burials around St Paul's and that those in the north-east corner of the Churchyard were the best preserved.

MNI: 1. Adult of unknown sex (all epiphyses are fused).

Pathology present: no visible pathologies.

Donated by: formerly in the collection of Mr E B Price, then the Barnard Davis Collection (number 66, p. 37 of Barnard Davis Catalogue).

Cranium from St Paul'’s Churchyard

Cranium from St Paul's Churchyard

Union Street, Southwark

PA SK 2931

Cranium found in a pit in Union Street, London

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present: arthritis[link to degenerative disease blog] on the temporomandibular joint

Donated by: once at the Oxford University Museum, then transferred from the British Museum's Medieval Antiquities Department.

Cranium from Union Street Southwark

Cranium from Union Street Southwark

Wapping Crypt

#15

Five cranial fragments (parietal and occipital bones), one tooth and dental arcade of a maxilla uncovered from Wapping Crypt, possibly post-medieval (seventeenth century).

MNI: 1. Unknown age, probably adult.

Pathology present: no evidence of pathological changes.

Donated by: Dr Steele, London Hospital and KPO.

Cranial fragments from Wapping

Cranial fragments from Wapping

Westminster

#5 – #7

Human remains found in peat in Westminster at a depth of six metres.

MNI: 1. Various upper post-cranial remains (#5) from an adult of unknown sex, a mandible (#6) from an adult of unknown sex, a frontal bone (#7) from an adult male.

Pathology present: arthritic changes[link to degenerative disease blog] on the scapula (lipping) and thoracic vertebrae (osteophyte and syndesmophyte formation, Schmorl's nodes and porosity); carious lesion[link to dental disease blog] with total destruction of crown and associated abscess and four teeth with linear enamel hypoplasias[link to metabolic disease blog]; lower second premolars exhibit marked rotation laterally so that the buccal cusp is located distally; thickening of inner table with the surface slightly nodular and striated, suggestive of the initial stage of hyperostosis frontalis interna as well as porosity[link to metabolic disease blog]  in both orbits.

Donated by: the Rt Hon A Akers Douglas, MP in August 1901. 

Bones from the torso, found in Westminster.

Bones from the torso, found in Westminster. Arthritic changes are visible on the vertebral bodies

Whitehall Stairs

1551

Cranium and mandible found while digging a drain near Whitehall Stairs on 23 May 1823. Two other skulls and many loose bones were found in same spot.  

MNI: 1. Adult male.

Pathology present: fairly advanced tooth wear and linear enamel hypoplasia[link to metabolic disease blog] on the right upper first premolar.

Donated by: presented by William Lynn, Esq. to the Royal College of Surgeons in 1823, then transferred to the Natural History Museum in 1948. (FC addn. 326. OC 5713).

Cranium from Whitehall Stairs

Cranium from Whitehall Stairs

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Dr Heather Bonney

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Dr Rachel Ives

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Jennifer White

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