Skeletons of British soldiers found in mass grave located in Vianen


photo via Flickr under the creative commons license

British soldier remains found by a construction crew in Netherlands

In 2020 construction workers from the Netherlands found something they weren’t expecting to be discovered.

A construction crew was working in Vianen when they dug up a mass burial. They found 82 skeletons in the tomb, and the workers didn’t know who these people were. Were they apart of a plague or victims of war? Not too long after the finding, an archeologist identified these skeletons as the remains of British soldiers.

The workers were excavating a filled-in section that would soon be reconnected to the rest of the canal. They were working outside Batestein castle that was built in the 1370s by a guy named Gijsbrecht van Beusichem while Vianen was a self-governing city state back then.  Many families lived in this castle but it was abandoned in the 18th century after a fire that was caused by fireworks. There are still some walls and gates that remain to this day of what once was one of the most impressive castles in the Netherlands.

At first, only eight skeletons were found but after additional searching they found all 82 of the remains. These bones were discovered to be mostly males and all of the are said to have died between the ages of 20 and 30. Some of the construction workers were interviewed. Not only were they really surprised by the find, they were also surprised how the skeletons were arranged as one worker said “some of the skeletons are stacked.”

Archaeologists had some ideas why these remains were buried here and why, but couldn’t seem to find an exact solution. Some say these remains were victims of the black death because the castle dates all the way back to the 1400s when Europe was being invaded by the Bubonic plague. Another idea was related to the Netherlands War of Independence. In 1566 the Dutch attacked the Spanish, who were invading the city. Vianen was over run by the Spanish for almost 80 years so some archaeologists thought they could’ve been part of the war.

There were no objects found in the grave which makes historians think the burials were mysterious and sinister.