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Excavations in the City of London: First Interim Report, 1974–1975

  • Brian Hobley, John Schofield, Tony Dyson, Peter R. V. Marsden, Charles Hill and George Willcox...


The Department of Urban Archaeology, City of London, was set up in December 1973 as part of Guildhall Museum, now the Museum of London. Since then it has excavated sixteen sites and carried out numerous watching briefs. Most of the formal excavations have been conducted on the vital waterfront sites, made available for the first time, and on the Roman and medieval defences of the City. Important evidence of the elusive Saxon occupation is gradually coming to light, and the work is accompanied by specialist research, particularly finds, environmental and documentary.



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1 Grimes, W. F., The Excavation of Roman and Medieval London, London, 1968.

2 Archaeology in the City of London: an Opportunity, Guildhall Museum, 1973.

3 Plans reinforced byBiddle, M. and Hudson, D. with Heighway, C., The Future of London's Past, Worcester, 1973.

4 This report does not include watching briefs or salvage operations of 1974–5 which produced little or negative evidence.

5 SeeBiddle, M., op. cit., passim; Grimes, W. F., op. cit., pp. 5663.

6 Tatton-Brown, T., ‘Excavations at the Custom House Site, City of London, 1973’, Trans. Lon. Middx. Arch. Soc. xxv (1974), 117219.

7 For a summary of Roman objects found along a line just east of the medieval bridge, see Appendix 5 of the Inventory of London, RCHM, vol. 3, 1928.

8 The theory is discounted in Dyson, Tony, ‘The Pre-Norman Bridge: a Re-appraisal’, London Arch. ii. no. 12 (1975), 326–7.

9 Supervised by D. M. Jones.

10 R. Merrifield, gazetteer nos. 306, 308–9, The Roman City of London, London, 1965.

11 Supervised by J. Schofield; R. Seifert & Partners, architects; Ove Arup & Partners, engineers. 1974 trench (Areas I and II) supervised by G. Clewley.

12 Tatton-Brown, T., op. cit., especially figs. 210.

13 Petrikovitz, H. von, ‘Die Ausgrabungen in der Colonia Traiana bei Xanten’, Banner Jahrbücher, clii (1952), 145–57, figs. 17–2O.

14 Information from Ruth Morgan.

15 Harwell 1422.

16 Birm. 548; Department of Geology, University of Birmingham.

17 Supervised by J. Schofield; William Holford & Partners, architects; Sir Robert MacAlpine, engineers.

18 For interim discussion seeSchofield, J., ‘Seal House’, Current Arch. 49 (1975), 54–7.

19 Tatton-Brown, , op. cit., fig. 12.

20 Parker, H., ‘A Medieval Wharf at Thoresby College Courtyard, King's Lynn’, Med. Arch, ix (1965), fig. 26, pi. xvii.

21 Parker, V., The Making of King's Lynn (1975), PP. 3376, figs. 9–10.

22 Supervised by Mark Harrison, interim report inCurrent Arch, xlix (1975), 57–9. For a bronze seal matrix from this site, see Antiq. J. lvi (1976), 253. Summary by G. Milne.

23 By D. Brett, Bedford College.

24 Supervised by Charles Hill; assisted by Graham Fairclough.

25 The earliest historical reference to Ludgate is 1116–39. T h e existence of a Roman Ludgate is presumed rather than established.

26 By Martin Millett.

27 Corder, P., ‘The Re-organisation of the Defences of Romano-British Towns in the Fourth Century’, Arch. J. cxii (1955), 20.

28 Marsden, P., ‘The Riverside Defensive Wall of London’, Trans. Lon. Middx. Arch. Soc. xxi (1969), 149–57.

29 Supervised by Martin Millett.

30 Supervised by Charles Hill; with Peter Ellis, Sal Garfi, and John Maloney. Many thanks are due to the developers (Department of the Environment), R. Laing & McGees (Contractors), and especially to Ken Main, Laing's project manager. Interim report inLondon Arch, ii, no. 10 (1975), 260–2. On previous viewpoints, see Marsden, P., op. cit. in n. 28 above.

31 Smith, Charles Roach, Illustrations of Roman London, London, 1859, 1819; and Merrifield, , op. cit. III—13.

32 C14 date of A.D. 1170 ± 70; Harwell 1201.

33 I am grateful to Ruth Morgan of Sheffield University for her report, which will appear in full in the forthcoming report, ‘The Roman Riverside Wall at Baynard's Castle, Upper Thames Street, London, 1974–6’, by C. Hill, M. Millett, and T. Blagg.

34 Peter Marsden's excavations at Bastion no. 6, Duke Street, in 1971 revealed a deposit postdating the construction of the bastion containing pottery not later than fourth century and coins of the House of Theodosius. An early completion of this excavation, when the site becomes available again, would be most welcome.

35 Grimes, W. F., op. cit., pp. 131–4.

36 Supervised by Alan Thompson.

37 For a bronze tripod-mount from this site, seeAntiq. J. lvi (1976), 248.

38 For analogies seeAddyman, P. V. and Leigh, D., ‘The Anglo-Saxon village at Chalton, Hampshire’, Med. Arch, xvii (1973), 125, especially 13–17.

39 The Precinct of the Greyfriars’, Lon. Top. Rec. xvi (1932), 951.

40 Dating of the masonry features by R. Gilyard Beer, formerly of the Ancient Monuments division of the Department of the Environment.

41 Supervised by M. Guterres.

42 Marsden, P., Dyson, T., Rhodes, M., ‘Excavation on the Site of St. Mildred's Church, Bread Street, London, 1973–4’, Trans. Land. Middx. Arch. Soc. xxvi (1975), 171208.

43 Supervised by A. Boddington; A. Schickle, architect; Compass Securities, developers, provided much help with machinery. Interim report in London Arch. For the necklace see Antiq. J. lvi (1976), 247.

44 Excavation 1968–75 directed by P. Marsden, 1975 season supervised by J. Maloney. A short interim report of the 1968 season, with photographs and plan, appeared in London Arch, i (1968), 35.

45 Illustrated inWelch, M. G., ‘Mitcham Grave 205 and the Chronology of Applied Brooches with Floriate Cross Decoration’, Antiq. J. lv (1975), 8695, pl. xx, no. 6.

46 Supervised by Richard Jones.

47 Previous work had located the Billingsgate Bath-house suite some 30 m. to the west, and excavations in 1937–8 (Merrifield, gazetteer no. 355) and in 1967 (Peter Marsden, unpublished) indicated the continuation of Roman buildings to a point immediately west of the site.

48 Late fourth- and probably fifth-century deposits were noted by Peter Marsden on his site to the west (see n 47).

49 Supervised by Mark Guterres; report forthcoming by Richard Blurton.

50 Supervised by Louise M. B. Miller; Richard Ellis, architects; James Longley & Co., site contractors.

51 Hume, I. Noel and Hume, A. Noel, ‘A Midfirst Century Pit near Walbrook’, Trans. Lon. Middx. Arch. Soc. li (1954), 249–58.

52 Supervised by Des Woods.

53 Biddle, M. et al., op. cit., 14.

55 Supervised by Alan Thompson.

56 Merrifield, R., op. cit., gazetteer no. 95.

57 Chapman, H., op. cit.

58 Thompson, Alan, ‘An Excavation at Aldgate’, London Arch, ii, no. 12 (1975), 317–19.

59 B.M. registration number 913–20 and London Museum registration number C939.

60 London Museum registration number A13665.

61 This Verecundus is not to be confused with the first-century potter of the same name who worked in Gallia Belgica.

62 LS 4751, andNehalenniae, Deae: Middelburg, Koninklijk Zeeuwsch Genootschap der Wetenschappen, Leiden (1971), lxxviii, no. 45. See also Gillam, J. P., Types of Roman Coarse Pottery Vessels in Northern Britain, 2nd edn., Newcastle, 1968.

63 When measurements are quoted the width precedes the height. R.I.B. means R. G. Collingwood andWright, R. P., The Roman Inscriptions of Britain, vol. i (Oxford, 1965), cited by itemnumbers.

64 The letters of the inscription preserve traces of red colouring produced by mixing chalk with crushed tile. The nomen Martiannius is not previously attested, but Martianius with a single N is possible as a formation from the known cognomen Martianus, in which case the second N has been added in error by the stonecutter. On the formation oinomina from cognomina seeBirley, E., Roman Britain and the Roman Army (1953), p. 176. For the spelling of collabsum in 1. 9 see below note 6 6. In 1. 7 there may have been an extra letter in the middle of the first word. In 11. 7 and 8 some such phrase as c[um xys]tis would be possible.

65 SeePetersen, H., ‘Senatorial and Equestrian governors in the Third Century’, JRS xlv (1955), 4755. A further difficulty is that equestrian governors will, in normal circumstances, be accorded the title F(ir) P(erfectissimus), not F(ir) E(gregius), although a procurator, acting as the temporary substitute for a senatorial legatus pro praetore would be so described. SeePetersen, , op. cit., p. 51, and n. 60, Clementius Silvinus, vir egregius agens vices praesidis in Pannonia Inferior. We would like to thank a large number of scholars for discussing the difficulties of this text with us, particularly Prof. E. Birley, Dr. W. Eck, and Dr. J. C. Mann.

66 For other examples of imperial freedmen in Britain see R.I.B. 179 and 643. In 1. 1 several other expansions e.g. DI]M, compare D(eo) In(victo) M(ithrae) R.I.B. 1545, or M D]M, M(atri) D(eum) M(agnae) are possible, but on the whole less likely. However, preceding the M, is a diagonal chisel cut, which, while too shallow to be part of the second stroke of the letter A, could be the tail of a centrally placed leaf stop, which would imply that there were only two letters in the first surviving line. In that case [DEO] | [I(NVICTO)] M(ITHRAE) or [MATRI] | [D(EVM)] M(AGNAE), would both be possible. For the spelling of conlabsum in 1. 3 with nl compare R.I.B. 979 and 1092, and with b, ibid. 979.

67 , R. E. M. and Wheeler, T. V., Verulamium: a Belgic and Two Roman Cities (Oxford, 1936), pp. 76–7, 129; Kenyon, K. M., Archaeohgia, lxxxvi (1934), 238; Strong, D. E. in Cunliffe, B. W. (ed.), Fifth Report on the Excavations of the Roman Fort at Richborough, Kent (Oxford, 1968), pp. 4073.

68 Cunliffe, B. W., Roman Bath (Oxford, 1969).

69 Esperandieu, E., Recueil giniral des basreliefs … de la Germanie romaine (Paris and Brussels, 1931), p. 357, publishes a relief of four Deae quadruviae from Bad Cannstatt (no. 557).

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