'The Great Pit in Aldgate', 1665.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Engraving made c 1865 by Davenport after Cruikshank, showing men with torches in a churchyard, preparing to empty bodies into an open grave during the Plague of London. The bubonic plague is a disease caused by Yersinia pestis, an infection carried by fleas living as parasites on rats. The plague hit London in late 1664, having ravaged Holland the previous year, and killed around 100,000 people in and around the city. Regular outbreaks of bubonic plague occurred in Britain and Europe in Medieval times and continued until the 17th century. Illustration from 'A journal of the plague year, or, Memorials of the great pestilence in London, in 1665', by Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731), published in London in 1835.