LONDON ARCHAEOLOGIST 1979 vol 3.14

All Dept. of Urban Archaeology, Museum of London.

GPO, Newgate Street. TQ 3204 8135 South End (S. Roskams).


Excavations in the S of this site have now been completed. The first signs of activity are represented by a fragment of a circular hut bounded by a ditch to the N. Dating to the 50's AD., it may antedate the setting out of the Roman Street to the S. There are fragmentary traces of quarrying of the natural brick-earth further N on the site. Eventually two rectangular and several probably circular structures were built, aligning with the Roman Street and destroyed by fire, probably in the Boudiccan revolt. After a lull in activity, substantial industrial buildings were placed on the site in an extensive late-Flavian development, accompanied by a huge brickearth quarry with secondary organic backfill to the NE. The sequence above this has been described in previous round-ups.

GPO, West Central area (P. Allen, I. Blair, J. Burke-Easton, M. Lee, C. Midgley and J. Norton).
Early Roman activity in the form of intercutting pits for rubbish and brickearth extraction to the E, and a sequence on the W following the pattern established during earlier excavations to the rear of the properties fronting on to Newgate Street (see Excavation Round-up 1978) was sealed by a thick deposit of dark silts covering the whole area. A series of hearths, mostly of tile and brickearth construction, were concentrated in three separate areas of the site during the early medieval period, the W group probably being associated with a flimsy structure. These were followed on the E side by a series of large rubbish pits mostly of 13th c date, and by fragmentary remains of a building with chalk and ragstone foundations and associated with a chalk-lined well and cess pits to the W, the contemporary differences in land use probably relating to property boundaries across the site. Immediately below the level of the Victorian basement, a substantial stone founded building covering an area of 12 x 10m (40 x 33ft) is provisionally dated to 14th c.

Well Court. TQ 3238 8108 (D. Perring).
A sequence of 1st and 2nd c buildings fronting on to a Roman road have been examined. The earliest levels associated with the road await excavation but in its later stages the road was between 6 and 8m ((20-26ft) wide and aligned N-S. Traces of two major fire levels have been identified within the sequence of Roman deposits. Slots, postholes and stakeholes were cut into the debris of the second, possibly Antonine, fire. These have not yet been dated. A deposit of dark earth, 0.35-0.50m (14-20in) thick, sealed these intrusive features. Two ninth century walls of post in trench construction cut into the dark earth. They were probably associated with buildings which fronted on to Bow Lane, which forms the west limit of the, site. An early surface of Bow Lane has been tentatively identified. The line of , Bow Lane converged on that of the Roman road 3m (l0ft) to its E. A series of sunken ovens were found within the buildings. One of these had a tile floor and a daubed timber, beehive shaped superstructure. Archeomagnetic samples were taken. Carbonised bread wheat grain was found within two of these ovens. Chalk foundations of medieval walls cut into the Roman and Saxon levels. WC.

Miles Lane. TQ 3284 8075 (L. M. B. Miller).
A Roman building with timber terracing to the S was observed in construction trenches for a building in 1920. The remaining archaeology was sealed beneath the slab of the previous 19th c building and this awaited an opportunity for excavation. The site was opened at the beginning of September 1979 and was available, from Land Securities Ltd., for four months. The medieval layers were truncated by the 19th c slab but the bottoms of several Saxon pits survived. The building observed by Frank Lambert (Archaeologia, 71, 62-72) in 1920 was found in two parts, with the N end being completely of tile and the S of dressed rag with tile courses, Floors of opus signinum were found associated with the N part but very patchy mortar floors with the southern. An eaves drip gully ran down the outside of the W wall bordering a gravel pavement. A drain ran down the other side of this pavement. A fragment of timber lined drain over 6ft deep was found to the S of the building with plank and post sides and floor preserved below the water table. Of Hadrianic date, this cut through the timber terracing which ran parallel with and S of the front of the building. The timber boxes formed were then packed with dumps of mortars and clays. When this is taken out the timbers should be preserved below the water table and provide a good early series for dendrochronological analysis. WC.

Mermaid Theatre. TQ 3182 8090 (P. Herbert).
A small , excavation on the site of the N end of the Theatre and the adjacent Puddle Dock failed to find the Roman riverside city wall, which was found immediately to the E in 1974-6. The wall must turn to the NW, as probably did Upper Thames Street, at this point. Timber baseplates for . a front and back braced revetment were found turning from the east side of the Dock, to form a frontage to the river, datable by dendrochronology to c. 1240. With this revetment were noted traces of buildings forming the first units of reclaimation S of Thames Street.

Peninsular House. TQ 3295 3340 (G. Milne and P. Thompson)
D.U.A. with C.O.L.A.S. The foundations of one of the five Roman masonry structures recorded on the site was found to cut first century dumps which overlay a well-preserved sequence of water-laid deposits of pre- Roman date. A series of occupation surfaces with possible hearths or ovens, presumably associated with early medieval timber buildings, was found in the E of the site, and a brick cellar floor adjacent to Pudding Lane was shown to have been damaged by a fire in the late 17th c. WC.

Crosswall. TQ 3360 8100 (J. Maloney). See MOSAlC in Vol. 3, No. 13, 364.
The trench for the 'bastion foundation cut through the V-shaped ditch which is associated with the construction of the Roman wall. The berm was about 2.7m (8ft 9in) wide, and the V-shaped ditch was 2.0m (6ft 6in) deep and some 4.8m (15ft 9in) wide. Both the V-shaped ditch and the bastion were cut into by a ditch of medieval date. The V shaped ditch was also recorded in another area but there it was cut by a broad ditch of (?) Roman date, the backfill of which yielded a coin of c. 345-361 AD and part of a human skull. Bastion 4 was situated in this area and a dump of Roman building debris sealed by 17th c layers may be connected with its destruction. A token dated 1667 was found in the gravel packing around a well, the backfill of which contained a substantial quantity of material associated with glass-making in the late 17thlearly 18th c. Each end of the Roman wall is defined by a brick cess-pit of 18th c date and these are presumably indicative of post-medieval property boundaries. There is also evidence of horn-core features in both areas.

St. Barts Hospital. TQ 3186 8152 (D. Bentley). See MOSAIC in Vol. 3, No. 13, 364.
EXCAVATIONS AT ST. BARTS. HOSPITAL (from Mosaic).
IN MARCH 1979 the Department of Urban Archaeology investigated an area within the precincts of St. Bartholomews Hospital known to have been part of a Roman burial ground. Evidence was found of late 2nd to 4th century burials, and also of a 1st to 2nd century building lying beneath the burials. The site is located north of the City Wall of c. 200, and the building is one of the first examples of a Roman suburban structure in London. Although the site was of limited extent, evidence suggests that this building represents at least three phases of activity. Several gravel and brickearth occupation surfaces dated to the 1st and early 2nd centuries were bounded by major and minor brickeath sills aligned east-west. A 2nd century opus signinum floor covered part of these internal surfaces. A destruction phase involving the digging of pits, removal of the building debris and the partial sealing of the area followed. The area was not intensively used for burials. However 16 east-west aligned inhumations were located and the existence of a further 6 indicated, in residual deposits, within a 29 sq. m. (300 sq. ft) area. The distribution of age-range, sex and cause of death suggests a civilian graveyard, and dating evidence from coins and pottery indicate late 2nd to mid 4th centuries, a range consistent with the Roman practice of inhumation. Fragments of iron nails surrounding some skeletons suggest the use of wooden coffins. Of note was one grave, a female inhumation containing a small bronze bell and a series of simply-decorated bronze armlets apparently placed on her chest. Several burials cut through the earlier structural deposits. One such was the grave of a two year old child set in the opus signinum floor. The entire area of burial-deposits was sealed by dark earth. DAVlD BENTLEY

Bull Wharf. TQ 3240 8075 (C. Milne).
A watching brief conducted during the contractors' redevelopment of the site produced evidence of medieval and post-medieval riverfront reclamation incorporating both front braced timber revetments and stone river walls.

Holy Trinity Priory. (Mitre Square) TQ 3345 8102 (J. Schofield).
Excavations on the W side of Mitre Square revealed foundations of the range on the W side of the cloister of Holy Trinity Priory (founded 1108). Provisionally three main phases were identified: an initial building on the W side of the cloister, with burials to the S, some in chalk and mortar cists; a phase of adaptation at the time of new building to the S and E; and a third phase of later internal adaptation. Dating is scarce but it is suggested that the first phase is of the early 12th c, the second and third 14th c or later. Current work on the reconstruction of the Priory (with R. Lea) indicates that the second phase foundations were the W end of the conventual church, probably including a tower, as shown in the Symons plan of 1592. Beneath the priory foundations lay disturbed levels of humic silt and evidence of small scale digging for brickearth in the 1st and 2nd c. The watching brief on this site produced evidence of the 17th c Aldgate potter, including wasters.

Cutler Street. TQ 3340 8150 (S. 0’Connor-Thompson).
At the former P.L.A.'s warehouses situated between Bishopsgate Houndsditch and Middlesex Street, approximately 200 sq m (2,000 sq ft) were excavated in plan and a watching brief was maintained on the remaining four acres. On the western of the two sites a number of human bones were recorded dating to the Roman period. Though no grave as : such was discovered, it seems probable that these represent part of the Roman cemetery that is known to have existed outside Bishopsgate from the 1st c. The Saxon and medieval periods are uniformly represented by a thick deposit of dark earth which was recorded throughout the whole site. The only notable medieval feature was a pond which had silted up by 1500 to become a dumping ground for a variety of rubbish including a number of 15th c shoes. During the 16th c and first half of the 17th c the site saw an increased amount of activity, though it is probably safe to say that the land remained agricultural in its usage. By 1700 a large number of buildings had been erected of which substantial remains of at least 13 were recorded. Wells were sunk and cess pits constructed. The debris from numerous small scale industries e.g., clay-pipe making, bell-founding, glass making and horn working, was widespread. One industry whose function is as yet undetermined involved the use of pits lined with the bony cores of cattle horns; some dozen of these pits were found, varying in size Prom 1-16 sq m (10-160 sq ft).

22-25 Farringdon Street. TQ 3165 8134 (A. Thompson).
An E facing section orientated W-E, cut by the contractor, revealed this probable E embankment of the River Fleet. This was associated on its E side with a ditch-like feature of which a width of c. 5m (16ft) was examined. This feature was probably man-made, although the limited evidence from the section may point to a natural linear feature connected with the river; only work on the environmental samples will clarify this.

LAARC Archive

174–176 Aldersgate Street, EC1. TQ 32120 81620 (M. Barker).
A N-S section to the rear of this extra-mural property revealed a possibly Roman horizon of redeposited natural, overlaid by a series of make-ups/dumps which in turn were cut by an E-W ditch. The ditch is provisionally dated to the 12/13th c. Gravel and silty clay dumps were laid across the site over the ditch fills. These were sealed by a medieval tile-based hearth which predated chalk block wall foundations. Post-medieval brick foundations were also noted.

33 Creechurch Lane, EC3. TQ 33430 81260 (G. Egan).
Cutting into natural brickearth was a ditch 4m long, aligned NW-SE, which was infilled in the 4th c. Fragments of chalk and ragstone wall foundations seem to be from the NW part of the precinct of Holy Trinity Priory, while a series of six medieval pits aligned N-S down the centre of the site presumably indicate a property boundary, probably that of the W edge of the priory’s precinct. Several ?late medieval or post-medieval wall foundations were recorded, and a brick-arched culvert which may date from the first half of the 19th century.

78–79 Fenchurch Street, EC3. TQ 33460 81070 (L. Watson).
Two test pits were recorded in a basement before demolition. Roman stratigraphy consisted of alternate bands of discoloured light tan brickearth and silts. Medieval pits and a corner of a post-medieval brick-lined cesspit were also recorded.

6–10 Heneage Lane, EC3. TQ 33380 81240 (L. Watson).
Quarry pits of 1st/2nd c date were followed by possible brickearth surfaces and dark earth. Occupation in the medieval period was represented by pits and chalk or chalk and ragstone foundations, together with garden soil. These were followed by brick-founded buildings in the post-medieval period, a brick-lined cesspit and a well.

130–131 Cheapside [Woolworth’s], EC2 (J Millner)
A watching brief on the site of a former Woolworth’s store produced evidence of activity from the 1st c onwards. The Roman sequence included three phrases of occupation, the first and third of them terminated by fire-destruction horizons which may represent the mid 1st c Boudican and early 2nd c Hadrianic fires respectively. The structures destroyed by these fires were probably aligned with the main Roman E-W road to the S beneath modern Cheapside and possibly, in one case, to a N-S road to the W - that leading to the S gate of the Roman fort (note that this road is different to that found at OST82).
Above these deposits was a band of dark soil indicating a prolonged interruption of the sequence between Roman and medieval periods. The latter was represented by pits and traces of timber buildings, followed by a series of 13th and 14th c stone foundations, possibly of the medieval Cross Keys Inn on Wood Street and the alley which divided it from the churchyard of St Peter Cheap. A post-medieval well and drains were almost certainly from the Inn, which occupied the site until it was replaced in the 1860s by the building demolished for the present redevelopment.