Some were sickly Cambridge University scholars, others homeless wayfarers or simply the infirm.

Having fallen on hard times, and being too poor to care for themselves, they all ended up receiving spiritual succour during their last days in the medieval Hospital of St John the Evangelist, set up in 1195.

After they died they were buried in the hospital’s own cemetery whose exact site and scale were a mystery for centuries – until a lecture hall belonging to a Cambridge college needed refurbishing.

To their amazement, archaeologists digging under the Old Divinity School – a Victorian building owned by St John’s College, which was founded in 1511 on the site of the hospital and which takes its name from it – unearthed the cemetery and the remains of 1,300 people.

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