Workers digging Britain’s newest railway have unearthed 20 Roman skulls buried beneath Liverpool Street station.
The remains, estimated to be around 1700 years old, were found alongside thousands of other Roman artefacts during construction of the £15bn London Crossrail project.
Archaeologists reckon the 3rd Century skulls could be some of the first Romans buried in Britain after they changed from cremation to burial.
Nicholas Elsden from the Museum of London Archaeology said: “It’s relatively unusual find to find so many concentrated in one area when you’re not in a graveyard.
“We’re 100 yards outside the Roman city walls.”
The skulls were buried six metres below the surface and are believed to have been carried there along a historic underground Thames tributary, the River Walbrook.
Lead archaeologist Jay Carver said: “This is an unexpected and fascinating discovery that reveals another piece in the jigsaw of London’s history.
“This isn’t the first time that skulls have been found in the bed of the River Walbrook and many early historians suggested these people were killed during the Boudicca rebellion against the Romans.
“We now think the skulls are possibly from a known Roman burial ground about 50 metres up river from our Liverpool Street station worksite.
“Their location in the Roman layer indicates they were possibly washed down river during the Roman period.”
The Museum of London Archaeology will analyse the finds in a bid to discover more about the people, including how they died, what they ate and what they were like.
The Crossrail project, a train line cutting through the heart of London, is set to be completed in 2018.
Since construction began four years ago over 10,000 historic artefacts spanning more than 55 million years of life in London have been discovered.
They include dinosaur bones and a Mesolithic ‘tool factory’ where 150 flint tools were found.
The Crossrail route will pass through 38 stations and stretch 62 miles from Maidenhead, Berks, to Abbey Wood, in South East London.