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‘In the Vaults Beneath’- Archaeological Recording at St George's Church, Bloomsbury

Boston, Ceridwen and Boyle, Angela and Witkin, Annsofie (2006) ‘In the Vaults Beneath’- Archaeological Recording at St George's Church, Bloomsbury. Project Report. Oxford Archaeological Unit Ltd. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

Oxford Archaeology (OA) undertook an archaeological recording action in the crypt of the Grade I listed St George’s church, Bloomsbury, London, from the 21st April to the 20th June 2003, on behalf of the Parochial Church Council (PCC) of St George’s church, Bloomsbury. OA was in attendance on Burial Ground Services (BGS) for the duration of the work, which took place in advance of restoration of the crypt. In addition, OA undertook a series of watching briefs and buildings recording in the crypt and churchyard of the church between 2002 and 2004. The work comprised recording of funerary architecture and the crypt structure, along with recording and removal of all the burials in the crypt. A total of 781 burials were discovered within seven vaults leading off the central chamber. The entire burial assemblage of human remains, coffins and their associated fittings was recorded during site works prior to their reburial. All 781 coffins were triple coffins, most commonly comprising an upholstered wooden case, a lead shell and an inner wooden coffin. The coffins and their associated fittings were recorded in full. The names of 90% of the assemblage were identified from departum plate inscriptions, although some of these had become divorced from their coffins in the intervening years. Osteological analysis was undertaken on the 111 skeletons retrieved from open lead coffins. This analysis was undertaken on site and the report compiled in Oxford. The human remains underwent either high or low resolution analysis, the former where the identity of the individual was known (n = 72), and the latter where it was not (n = 39). Limited documentary research was carried out on these individuals. The burials dated from 1800 to 1856, after which the crypt was sealed. The burial population represented the wealthy upper middle classes resident in Bloomsbury, and numbered amongst them were many lawyers, doctors, MPs, imperial administrators and librarians of the nearby British Museum, although less elevated professions, such as a servant, butcher and carpenter, have been identified from burial registers. Palaeodemographics and disease patterns are consistent with this social picture. An interesting feature of this group was the wealth of evidence for dental surgery and protheses and as such, the affluent population of St George’s crypt, Bloomsbury provides a rare insight into the early history of dentistry.

Item Type:Monograph (Project Report)
Subjects:Geographical Areas > English Counties > Greater London
Period > UK Periods > Post Medieval 1540 - 1901 AD
ID Code:148
Deposited By: Joseph Reeves
Deposited On:15 Feb 2010 12:01
Last Modified:22 Dec 2011 14:25

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