In Brief

Bodies of 800 children unearthed in Blackburn

Historic remains dating back to 19th century found during exhumation

The remains of 800 children are among 1,967 bodies to be exhumed by archaeologists at St Peter's Burial Ground in Blackburn, Lancashire.

The bodies are being unearthed and moved ahead of the construction of a new section of road through the area.

Archaeologists working on the dig think many of the children died from infections between 1821 and the 1860s. The large number of children's bodies is being attributed to a lack of good sanitation and medicines, leading to a high infant mortality rate, the BBC reports.

"They would have died quite quickly so the signs might not turn up in their skeletons," says archaeologist Dave Henderson.

Julie Franklin, the finds manager for the dig site, said many of the objects recovered alongside the bodies revealed what was important to those who had been buried, including "some incredibly poignant findings of hands still bearing cheap brass wedding rings or children buried with colourful glass bead jewellery".

One artefact recovered from the site was a full set of 1820 George III coins, contained in a time capsule inside the foundation stones of the building.

Tony Foster, from the Lancashire Family History and Heritage Society, said he was excited about the quantity and quality of the items being recovered from the dig site.

"The finds are a great addition to our knowledge about the history of Blackburn," he said.

The remains being removed from the site will be re-interred in a new location within the graveyard, before construction of the road begins.

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