Archaeologists working in the centre of Ypres in West Flanders have so far uncovered 1,200 skeletons of people buried in the Middle Ages, as well as interesting information on the way of life in the city during that period. The excavations were opened to the public in May, when it was shown how the Sint-Niklaas parish, a stone’s throw from what is not the city centre, was important in the growth of the city from the 13th century on.
Two months ago some 500 skeletons had been uncovered; now the total is around 1,200. “We had thought an old canal had taken at bend at one point, but in fact the graveyard kept going,” explained archaeologist Michelle Arnouts. “We found more of the same: bodies in coffins, in half-coffins, women, children, everything.”
Over the last two months the dig has not only uncovered the rest of the Sint-Jan-ten-Berghe abbey, but also part of the city and a canal.
“In the beginning we were wondering what sort of activities were going on in this area,” Arnouts said. “In the second part we started finding rubbish dumps with leather offcuts and parts of shoes, which led us to believe that this part of the city was an area of leather workers.”
The excavations continue until the beginning of September. A second open-day for the public takes place on 18 August.