At least 20 skeletons (possibly medieval) have been unearthed in a mass grave during excavations in Vianen, Netherlands, and archaeologists do expect to find more remains. It is believed that these skeletons are hundreds of years old.
What’s so unusual about this grave was that some of the skeletons were stacked on top of each other in what was believed to have been a wooden box. While the box is no longer present as it would have deteriorated in the ground, experts did find old rusty nails that suggested a box was once buried there. Interestingly, there weren’t any textiles, jewelry, or buttons found which leads some experts to believe that a mass murder may have occurred.
Alderman Christa Hendriksen said in a statement, “It is clear that this is a historical find. The skeletons date from the Late Middle Ages to a few hundred years ago.” The mass grave was located outside the grounds of Batestein Castle. While it’s possible that the individuals all died at the same time and were then buried together, this has yet to be confirmed.
Batestein Castle was constructed around the year 1370 by Gijsbrecht van Beusichem, Lord of Vianen. A large fire destroyed a large portion of the castle in 1696 and due to financial troubles, the castle wasn’t rebuilt. Parts of it were eventually torn down and all that’s left now is a portion of the decorative gate (called the Hof or Bosch Gate) and a few connecting wall parts.
The municipality of Vijfheerenlanden first announced that 9 skeletons had been unearthed but just a few short days later, that number jumped to at least 20. “There is no doubt that there is more. The size is not yet known. That is why an even larger area is being investigated,” Hendriksen stated.
While the dates of when the individuals passed away are still unclear, what is known is that the majority of the skeletons were men ranging between 15 and 30 years of age. According to Alkhaleej Today, one of the archaeologists posed the following questions, “Why are these people lying here? What caused them to die? Could it be related to historical events?”
The skeletons will be analyzed by a specialist who will hopefully be able to answer those very questions and more excavation work will be conducted. Several pictures of the excavation site and the bones can be seen here.