“Plague pit” under Islington Green, say historians
Islington Green could be sitting on top of a burial pit dating back to the time of the bubonic plaque, according to historians.
It is no secret that the plague – dubbed ‘the Black Death’ – struck London in the 17th century, wiping out more than 15% of the capital’s population. However, the whereabouts of some of the pits in which the deceased were buried has always been a mystery, until now.
The discovery has been met with surprise and concern by locals who use the area as a place to eat their lunch, sit amongst friends or perhaps read a book.
Spencer Gate, a shop owner who regularly goes to Islington Green for lunch said he is now “reluctant to eat lunch over the green” and is even scared of the plague “re-surfacing”.
Around 100,000 people died of the plague, between 1665 and 1666 and hundreds of plague pits were dug around London and on fields surrounding the city to accommodate the rising body count.
Online heritage guide Historic UK, with help of local historians, 17th Century sources and social media platforms, compiled data that maps out all the locations thought to be plague burial sites around London.
“Our London Plague Pits project is being compiled with the use of historical textbooks, modern research papers, as well as the recent discoveries by projects such as Crossrail,” a spokesman for Historic UK said. “We are also encouraging our readers to submit their own plague pit tip-offs via social media.”
He added that the primary source for this particular location was The London Compendium by Ed Gilnert, a street-by-street guide of the capital that discusses the burial pits at length.
You can browse the interactive map of the ongoing project, which so far has also discovered sites underneath Upper Street and Charterhouse Square.