Construction Workers Find 75 Roman Skeletons Under Hotel Swimming Pool

Published April 27, 2018

A residential development project has been delayed because of the discovery of an ancient mass grave.

Newington Hotel Skeleton

York Archeological Trust/SWNSDozens of skeletons found under the hotel’s swimming pool.

The Newington Hotel in York, England closed in 2016 and the property was set to be redeveloped into family residences. But the plans have hit a chilling snafu.

“The refurb has not been without its issues,” said John Reeves, the project’s developer. “To start with there were over 60 Roman skeletons found under the old swimming pool.”

As construction workers began to dig, they uncovered what turned out to be the skeletal remains of around 75 Romans dating as far back as 50 B.C. The site was likely an extension of a Roman gladiator burial site that was discovered in 2004, as it is located just 1,000 feet away.

In an excavation process that took three months, the York Archaeological Trust removed, catalogued, and investigated the remains. The Romans found ranged in age from infants to the elderly, and and included men and women. It hasn’t yet been determined whether any of the bodies found belonged to the gladiators. Researchers think it unlikely considering the diverse demographics. Male skeletons found at the hotel site showed signs of blunt force trauma and about half were decapitated.

Roman Skeletan Hotel Site

York Archaeological Trust/SWNSThe remains date back to 50 BC.

David Scott of the Archaeological Trust said that the findings shouldn’t have come as such a surprise to the developers, considering there have been dozens of similar finds in the area.

“The hotel is adjacent to a cemetery excavated by LP Wenham in the 1950s and it was one of the first Romano-British burial grounds to be fully published in this country,” said Scott.

Excvation Roman Hotel

York Archaeological Trust/SWNSThe excavation took three months.

The 44-bedroom Newington Hotel was open for at least 20 years, all the while nobody knew that guests were swimming above dozens of ancient bodies.

Scientists are still in the process of analyzing the remains for more clues into who exactly these Romans were.

Meanwhile, it will make for an interesting selling point once the new homes are put up for sale.

If you found this article interesting, you may want to read about the Ancient Roman Swords found inside a fort along Hadrian’s Wall. Then read about the thousands of bodies found buried under a 19th century Mississippi insane asylum.

Kara Goldfarb
Kara Goldfarb is a writer living in New York City.