Sunflowers and Polyspans

Ian Blair

Calverts Buildings, 15–23 Southwark Street, SE1 (15SKS80)


Calverts Buildings excavation overall photographView across the DGLA (S & L) excavation at 15–23 Southwark Street, (Calverts Buildings) SE1, which ran from 1980–84, the site was supervised by George Dennis (in left foreground in a brown smock with his back to the camera) and Dave Beard. The final phase of fieldwork took place in 1986 and was supervised by Carrie Cowan Photo from Robin Densem
(Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society, vol 43, pages 3-191)

Looking at this photo evoked some random thoughts on polyspans and horticulture on archaeological sites in the period: It was good to see that the DGLA in common with the DUA employed the same weighty iron frame polyspans on site. Weighing several tons and an absolute bastard to assemble, disassemble, and move around, it was a minor miracle that no one was maimed or critically injured during any one of these actions. More gratifying was to see the sunflower crop in the foreground of the photo, which carried on a long-standing horticultural tradition on London archaeological sites, most dramatically seen on the stepped sides of the Trig lane ‘Triggurat’ in 1974.


Trig Lane TrigguratThe Hanging Gardens decking the east side of the Trig Lane Triggurat. Photo from Charlotte Harding

Trig Lane TrigguratClose-up of the floral display on the stepped sides of the Trig Lane ‘Triggurat’, looking north with St Pauls Cathedral in the background. Photo from Charlotte Harding


The Triggurat etching printA fine etching of the Trig Lane Triggurat drawn by P J Muir, which gives some idea of the massive scale of the structure. This limited edition etching was a free gift in the ‘Weekly Whisper’, the first DUA newsletter produced by Gustav Milne in 1974.



Calverts Buildings excavation photographThe Calverts Buildings site towards the end of the 1980–84 phase of archaeological excavations by the DGLA (S & L), with George Dennis to the left in the checked shirt. Photo from Robin Denem

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