Archeologists in southern England have discovered some 40 beheaded skeletons among the remains of 425 bodies found in a late Roman cemetery.
A team of some 50 archeologists made the discovery during an excavation at Fleet Marston, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, on the route of the multi-billion pound high-speed rail link currently under construction.
Nearly 10 percent of the bodies were decapitated, and many had their heads placed between their legs or next to their feet.
According to the archeologists, the decapitated skeletons were criminals or outcasts, but they added that decapitation was a “normal, albeit marginal, burial rite” during the late Roman period.
Researchers will study the exhumed skeletons, which could reveal more about Roman civilization’s historic lifestyles, diets and beliefs.
“All human remains uncovered will be treated with dignity, care, and respect and our discoveries will be shared with the community,” said Helen Wass, head of heritage at HS2 Ltd., as quoted by Business Insider.
More than 1,200 coins were also uncovered at the site, along with several lead weights, indicating it was a center of trade and commerce.
Domestic objects, including spoons, pins and brooches, were found, as well as gaming dice and bells, which suggest gambling and religious activities took place there, also.
The Romans ruled Britain from 43AD to 410AD.
Fleet Marston is one of more than 100 archaeological sites unearthed since 2018, due to the construction of the HS2 rail line running from London to Birmingham.