Archaeologists have unearthed the remains of hundreds of medieval scholars, all fallen upon hard times, on a site that is now a Cambridge College.
Containing more than 1,000 people, the large graveyard was discovered three years ago beneath the Old Divinity School at St John's College during refurbishment of the Victorian building. Details of the finding have only now been made public.
A report published in the current issue of the Archaeological Journal reveals that 400 perfectly preserved human skeletons were uncovered, along with the disarticulated and fragmentary remains of up to 1,000 more individuals.
Photos: Skeletons of Scholars Found in Cambridge
"It's one of the largest medieval hospital osteoarcheological assemblages from the British Isles," dig director Craig Cessford, from the university's department of archaeology and anthropology, said.
Mostly dating from the 13th to 15th centuries, the remains lay in burials belonging to the Hospital of St John the Evangelist. The building, from which St John's College takes its name, stood opposite the graveyard until 1511 and was established to care for "poor scholars and other wretched persons."