London Dig Uncovers Roman-era Skulls

An archaeologist digs out a possibly Roman skull from the site of the graveyard of the Bethlehem, or Bedlam, hospital next to Liverpool Street Station in the City of London. The dig is on the site of the future ticket hall for the Crossrail station at Liverpool Street.

Photograph: Rui Vieira/PA The London cab is to make an appearance in Australia but coloured white rather than the traditional black. The London Taxi Company has exported a test sample of 98 TX4 taxis to the Western Australian city of Perth for trials over the next few weeks. The cabs will be painted white to take account of the perpetual Perth sunshine. If the trial goes well more cabs will be ordered, with the Australian state of Victoria expected to be the next area to take the UK taxis. The export order is one of the first to be fulfilled since the relaunch of production by the London Taxi Company at its UK factory in Coventry, West Midlands, last month. The company’s chief executive, Evan Simeon, said: “The response has been phenomenal. We couldn’t have asked for a better welcome. One Perth operator who purchased a fleet of the 50 bright white used TX4s has already had a stampede of drivers who want to be the first ones to buy a cab and partake in the trial. “We’ve had a lot of positive interest from expats, both prospective customers and drivers. What has been especially gratifying are the offers from expat London taxi drivers who not only want to buy one, but have also offered their services to train our Australian drivers on everything from the service to vehicle operation.” Sign up for the Guardian Today Our editors’ picks for the day’s top news and commentary delivered to your inbox each morning.

London taxi cab comes to Australia

What is the associationif anywith Boudicca’s rebellion? It has been suggested that previous finds of skulls dating to this period may belong to victims of the rebellion, and beheading is certainly not unheard of in Roman Britain. This is a possibility that must be considered but cannot be satisfactorily addressed until full analysis of all material is complete. A quick look at some of the unwashed skulls revealed no evidence of injury around the time of death. But if these people were executed, we might find evidence only on the small vertebrae of the neck and perhaps the jaw. Even if this was part of a massacre, and there is no evidence that it was, it would be difficult to link it directly to the Boudicca rebellion. Of course, we will keep an open mind for now. What can you hope to learn from the skulls about life in Roman Britain? Funnily enough, skeletons normally tell us much more about how people lived than how they died. This is what makes them so valuable to scientists in the study of the past, being direct evidence of our predecessors’ lives and experiences. In this particular case, it is unfortunate that we only have disarticulated remains, as we can tell so much more when we have the whole skeleton to study, particularly with regard to disease. However, we will be able to look at the age and sex of the skulls to see whether we have an older or younger, or mixed, group, and whether we have mostly males or females.

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