Medieval skeletons found during Aberdeen Art Gallery revamp

A MASS grave containing about 100 medieval skeletons has been discovered under a Scottish art gallery.

The skeletons were uncovered during renovation work on Aberdeen Art Gallery. Picture: Wiki Commons
The skeletons were uncovered during renovation work on Aberdeen Art Gallery. Picture: Wiki Commons

Archaeologists made the discovery after being allowed to work on the North-east site during gallery renovation.

It is the second discovery of medieval skeletons to be made in Aberdeen in a matter of months.

At least 92 bodies dating to the 13th century have been discovered below Aberdeen Art Gallery, which is undergoing a £30 million refurbishment.

Archaeologists believe the discovery is evidence of the location of Blackfriars Abbey, founded between 1230 and 1249.

They were allowed to dig under the gallery because of its potential importance as a historic site.

The team found a collection of bones in three coffins that belonged to at least 40 people.


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A further 52 skeletons were found in individual coffins in their own graves.

Martin Cook, of AOC Archaeology, led the team in the ­discovery.

Mr Cook said: “It’s hugely significant to find a medieval cemetery like this because you rarely find them in Scotland.

“The post-excavation will be hugely important to shine details on the population of Aberdeen in the 13th and 14th centuries.”

Jason Finch, curator of archaeology and maritime history for Aberdeen Art Gallery and Museums, said: “The finds are an exciting mix that adds to the story of a medieval Aberdeen and everyday life in it.

“We can learn about the lives people led and the injuries they suffered.


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“Researching the surviving textiles and personal objects will give us a better understanding of how people dressed, animal bones, and shells can tell us about their diet while pottery finds could show what they ate and drank from.”

The find follows the discovery of 30 medieval skeletons at nearby Robert Gordon’s ­College.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s renovation will be delayed by six weeks to allow the archaeologists to exhume and organise the bones, allowing an exact count of the skeletons.