Many fashion historians thought bras were a fairly recent development, created as women abandoned corsets about 100 years ago. But this find, dating from the Middle Ages, shows that current bras may actually be a return to historic fashion.
One bra in particular "looks exactly like a (modern) brassiere," says Hilary Davidson, fashion curator for the London Museum. "These are amazing finds."
The lingerie was not only functional. The bras were intricately decorated with lace and other ornamentation, suggesting they were also meant to please a suitor.
The linen garments were unearthed in 2008, but it did not make news until now, according to Beatrix Nutz, the archaeologist responsible for the discovery.
Researching the items and carbon dating them to make sure they were genuine took some time. She delivered a lecture on them last year but the information stayed within academic circles until a recent article in the BBC History Magazine.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.