15,000 Bodies Buried Beneath Borough

Round every street corner in London there is something new to be found. All you need to do is grab a pair of comfortable shoes and roam around the big city.

As I meandered down the back streets from Borough tube station to the famous Borough Market I came across one of London’s many historical golden nuggets.

Situated on Redcross Way (a quiet road running parallel to the bustling Borough high-street), numerous colourful pieces of ribbon tied to a black, rusty, metal gate fluttered in the wind.


Intrigued I took a closer look. It appeared that attached to these vibrant pieces of cloth were memorial messages and pictures of ladies. I peered beyond the gate to see a garden of sorts.

A sign in the middle of the gate indicated that this plot of land was indeed a burial site for prostitutes spanning back to Medieval times, named Cross Bones.

‘I have heard of ancient men report that these single women were forbidden the rights of the church so long as they continued that sinful life, and were excluded from Christian burial, if they were not reconciled before their death. And therefore there was a plot of ground called the singles Woman Churchyard, appointed from them far from the parish church’ (John Stow 1598).

While part of the ladies work was regulated and licensed by the church they were still deemed unfit for burial in church grounds.

In recent years (1990s) a Transport for London project required archaeologists to dig up the area. They found  148 skeletons (which was thought to be only 1% of the total burials made there). Scientific finding showed the skeletons to be girls between the ages of 16 and 19, with 60% of them being children.

Today, professionals rush past, tourists stop by and cyclist peddle down the road – everyone that passes is met with this colourful, celebration of all life. Once shunned, now these girls are remembered.


‘When I am laid, am laid in earth, may my wrongs create no trouble, no trouble in thy breast, remember me, but ah forget my fate, remember’


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