A mass grave containing the remains of nearly 50,000 people killed by the "Black Death" plague some 650 years ago was discovered earlier this week in the vicinity of Farringdon in central London.

Historical records indicate that this area was once deemed a veritable “no man’s land”, as it was used as a makeshift burial ground for many of those who perished at the fate of the bubonic plague, following its savage outbreak in 1348.

The Black Death pandemic is without a doubt the most fierce and gruesome pandemic to ever lash out against humankind, and is responsible for the untimely deaths of nearly 200 million people, In fact, at the time the plague peaked in Europe around 1350, nearly a third of the London population had been eliminated by this unsympathetic disease.

Public Domain

It is believed that the Black Death originated somewhere in central Asia and then likely crept into other areas via the Afro-Eurasia trade routes that had been established  to conduct import and export efforts between Asia, Europe and Africa. It wasn’t until the disease reached the Crimea Peninsula of the Ukraine that it is theorized to have become more widespread; being carried by the parasitic Oriental rat flea on the backs of a common merchant ship stowaway - the black rat.

While the cause of the bubonic plague was not clear at the time, many theories began to surface, including one by a medical facility in Paris that reported that the alignment of three planets in 1345 was the culprit for what many referred to as a “great pestilence in the air.” In fact, the theory that the plague was the result of “bad air” quickly became the most widely accepted scapegoat for the cause of the plague, since the importance of hygiene did not become understood until around the nineteenth century.

Public Domain

The bubonic plague killed quickly, usually within a matter of days. The symptoms began with the swelling of the lymph nodes in the groin, neck and armpits, which opened up and discharged a sickening mixture of puss and blood. Some people’s lymph nodes reportedly swelled up to the size of apples. Once black spots began to appear, it meant curtains for the person who had them.

While it may be difficult to believe that vermin and parasites had the capacity to take over the world, that is exactly what they did; spawning religious, social and economic upheavals that took nearly 150 years to mend the European population. In the 14th century, everyone from Jews to Lepers were being burned alive, as a means for trying to control ravenous nature of the plague - even people with simple skin disorders like acne and psoriasis were murdered, as a precautionary measure.

Public Domain

In the historic London neighborhood of Farringdon, records indicate that close to 50,000 people were buried during the time that the plague consumed the capital. Scientists hope that their most recent discovery of human remains there will help enlighten them on the complex DNA signature of the Black Death and perhaps even confirm burial dates.

Luckily for us, the bubonic plague became virtually non-existent somewhere around the 19th century.  However, the Black Death is still responsible for killing a handful of people all over the world each year.