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The mystery of the St Pancras walrus

Archaeologists have been left baffled by the discovery of walrus bones in a coffin under St Pancras Station.

They were found during excavations at the station, before it was refurbished to become the new Eurostar terminal.

The bones were found alongside human remains in mass burial trenches. Credit: Ramboll UK Limited
It's thought they may have been used in medical research or teaching. Credit: Ramboll UK Limited
From the size of the bones, it's thought the walrus was a large Pacific male. Credit: Ramboll UK Limited
Archaeologists are not sure how it came to be buried in London. Credit: Ramboll UK Limited

Bronze Age items are 'significant find'

Crossrail’s Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver said:

“This is a very significant find and the first Bronze Age find on the Crossrail project. We know from other sites nearby that this area was probably crisscrossed by a network of pathways........Although we haven’t identified an actual track way yet, the timbers are similar to those used to make the track ways and certainly show that people were in the area exploiting the woodland. This is a promising find as we continue our search for evidence of a Bronze Age transport route along where London’s newest railway will run.”

Bronze Age artefacts unearthed

The Crossrail archaeology programme has also unearthed its first Bronze Age finds - although these won't form part of the exhibition.

Two wooden stakes, cut by early London hunters with an axe, and a hammer stone have been discovered at excavations at Plumstead.

Historians believe these may have been used to build a large network of timber pathways across east London, which may have made it easier for hunters to catch animals living in the lush wetlands some 3,500 years ago.

An archaeologist unearths a Bronze Age wooden stake. Credit: Crossrail.
A hammer stone, which would have been used as a tool. Credit: Crossrail.
A wooden stake. Credit: Crossrail.

Crossrail archaeology finds

Archaeological finds, discovered at Crossrail worksites across London, are going on show in a special exhibition.

Medieval human bones and a piece of mammoth jaw bone are among the items on display at the Crossrail Tottenham Court Road Visitor Information Centre.

Large-scale excavations are taking part in several places across the capital, as engineers prepare to bore tunnels under the River Thames for the Crossrail train project.

Archaeological investigations at Limmo Peninsula, near Canning Town. Credit: Crossrail.
Excavations at Tottenham Court Road. Credit: Crossrail.
Medieval ice skates. Credit: Crossrail.
Medieval human bones were found at Liverpool Street. Credit: Crossrail.
A silver denarius. Credit: Crossrail.
The exhibition includes the UK’s largest rare amber find. Credit: Crossrail.
A mammoth's jaw bone found at Canary Wharf. Credit: Crossrail.