Possible Lancastrian Soldiers’ grave analysis.
2013 - 2014
Forensics and Science
Recent excavations near the Knavesmire in York by York Archaeological Trust, revealed two multiple inhumation graves. Further analysis of the 12 individuals by the Dickson Lab, revealed 10 were males aged 25-45yrs old, one was a child under 12 and the other an adolescent of 17-19 years.
Neither grave was aligned with the east-west orientation that usually implies Christian burial. Collectively, the multiple inhumations, lack of associated religious symbolism and notable gender bias strongly suggests two separate groups of hanged criminals. Radiocarbon dating assigned a date range to one grave containing four adult males of cal AD 1467 ± 30, which spans the Wars of the Roses (1455-1487). At cal AD 1516 AD ±30 the second ‘mass’ grave was of early Tudor date. Skeletal analysis revealed pathology including significant degenerative wear to imply heavy, physical working lives. The earlier pit assemblage was particularly notable, with multiple healed rib and long bone fractures and an unhealed broken arm, all in a small group of men of very similar age. Could they have been executed Lancastrian soldiers?