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Last Updated: Friday, 22 June 2007, 07:24 GMT 08:24 UK
Mass grave of Quakers uncovered
Quaker meeting
A meeting of the Society of Friends in its early days
A mass grave believed to contain the bodies of followers of the Quaker religious movement has been uncovered in Cambridgeshire.

Environment Agency workers found the rare Quaker burial site while carrying out work for flood defences at St Ives.

Sixteen bodies were in the unmarked grave dating back to the late 1600s.

Archaeologists described the find as "remarkable and unusual" as it gave an insight into Quaker burial practices just after the movement started.

Pipe facet

The Society of Friends was still emerging and developing as a religious movement in the last 1600s and now has many millions of members across the world.

Nine male bodies, five female and two of undetermined gender were uncovered during excavations for a 8.8m flood defence scheme at St Ives designed to protect 1,600 homes.

The men and women were buried between 1680 and 1720, local historians have traced most of their names and archaeologists have examined the skeletons.

One male skull revealed evidence of a pipe facet - two holes in teeth on one side of the jaw formed by years of pipe smoking.

Another male body had had his feet amputated some years before his death.

The skeletons also helped to provide an insight into the health of people at the time of their death.

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