The Black Death was one of the worst pandemics in human history. It devastated European populations from 1346 to 1353 and resulted in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people.The disease is documented to have reached Lincolnshire in the spring of 1349.The team said they sent teeth samples from the skeletons found at the Thornton Abbey site to McMaster University in Canada, where ancient DNA was successfully extracted from the tooth pulp. DNA test revealed the presence of Yersinia pestis, the bacterium responsible for the plague. An “extremely rare” 14th century Black Death burial pit containing 48 skeletons, including 21 children, has been discovered at the site of a monastery hospital.The mass burial was been uncovered by a team from Sheffield University at Thornton Abbey, near Immingham, in North Lincolnshire.The presence of such a large burial site – which included both male and female adults as well as 27 children – suggests the community was overwhelmed by Black Death and left unable to cope with the number of people who died, they said. The Black Death was one of the worst pandemics in human historyCredit:University of Sheffield/PA The team said they sent teeth samples from the skeletons found at the Thornton Abbey site to McMaster University in CanadaCredit:University of Sheffield/PA The presence of such a large burial site – which includes both male and female adults as well as children – suggests the local community was overwhelmed by Black DeathCredit:University of Sheffield/PA Dr Hugh Willmott, Sheffield University’s Department of Archaeology, said: “Despite the fact it is now estimated that up to half the population of England perished during the Black Death, multiple graves associated with the event are extremely rare in this country, and it seems local communities continued to dispose of their loved ones in as ordinary a way as possible.”Dr Willmott said the only two previously identified 14th-century sites where Yersinia pestis has been identified are historically documented cemeteries in London, where the civic authorities were forced to open new emergency burial grounds to cope with the very large numbers of the urban dead. He said: “The finding of a previously unknown and completely unexpected mass burial dating to this period in a quiet corner of rural Lincolnshire is thus far unique, and sheds light into the real difficulties faced by a small community ill-prepared to face such a devastating threat.”Dr Diana Mahoney Swales, of the University of Sheffield’s Department for Lifelong Learning, who is leading the study of the bodies, said: “Once the skeletons return to the lab, we start properly learning who these people really are.”We do this by identifying whether they are male or female, children or adults. And then we start to investigate the diseases that they may have lived through, such as metabolic diseases like rickets and scurvy, which are degenerative diseases for the skeleton.”However, for diseases such as plague, which are lethal, we have to use ancient DNA analysis to investigate that further.” Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily Front Page newsletter and new audio briefings.