One of Britain’s rarest spiders found lurking in Highgate Cemetery

One of Britain’s largest and rarest spiders has been discovered in the capital for the first time – lurking in the vaults of Highgate Cemetery.

Some 100 species of the Meta Bourneti were found in the darkest reaches of the 1830s Egyptian Avenue, during a bat survey carried out by the London Wildlife Trust last month.

The spiders require total darkness, so the sealed tombs in the cemetery have proved a perfect breeding ground.

A spokeswoman for the trust said the spiders, which measure 30mm in diameter, could have been living down in the sealed vaults for up to 150 years without anyone knowing.

Tony Canning, project leader, said: “The discovery of this important spider population in the heart of London shows just how valuable cemeteries such as Highgate can be in providing refuges for wildlife.”

During the trust’s survey of the historic cemetery, experts uncovered 227 species of flora and fauna which have not been recorded in London before.