Jewish skeletons unearthed in medieval well

The remains of 17 Jewish people found at the bottom of a medieval well could have been murdered or forced to kill themselves, scientists have suggested.

The skeletons were put into storage after they were discovered in 2004 during an excavation of a site in the centre of Norwich and have only recently been the subject of investigation.

Using a combination of DNA analysis, carbon dating and bone chemical studies, a group of forensic anthropologists at the University of Dundee have learnt more about the origins of the skeletons, dating back to the 12th or 13th centuries when Jews faced persecution in Europe,.

The DNA suggests that five were members of a single Jewish family and a total of 11 were children under the age of 15.

Professor Sue Black, who led the team, said: "We are possibly talking about persecution. We are possibly talking about ethnic cleansing and this all brings to mind the scenario that we dealt with during the Balkan War crimes."

A programme on the discovery, entitled History Cold Case: The Bodies in a Well will be on BBC Two tonight at 9pm.

    Last updated: 2:48pm, June 23 2011