A Time Line of Roman Discovery in London



In 1954 the intact foundations of the third century Roman Temple of Mithras – the Persian God of light and sun, was discovered. It was discovered by the River Wallbrook, a river that currently runs underground in the City of London. The news of the remains caused a national stir, and half mile queues formed to get a glimpse of the site. However no-one wanted to foot the cost of preserving the remains, given plans for a new building on the site. Consequently, a cheaper and disingenuous attempt was made to recreate the remains in Temple Court on Queen Victoria Street. However in 2012 the Temple Court was returned to its Wallbrook site and re-erected on its original foundations.




Thirty-nine skulls were excavated at London Wall. Tests later revealed they were of adult males, most bearing scars and slash marks, some with evidence of decapitation and most with multiple healed wounds, showing they suffered violence. The evidence suggests the heads were left for years decomposing in the open pits.



At the turn of the twentieth century Spitalfields Market underwent a transformation, as part of the old market structure was demolished to make way for an office block. The rest was turned into corporate canteens. During the excavation a limestone sarcophagus was found. Inside the sarcophagus there was a leaden coffin, ornamented with a beaded diamond and triangle pattern surrounding scalloped shells. The coffin dated from the fourth century AD. The occupant was a woman in her early twenties. Her head lay on a bed of bay leaves. Beneath the skeleton were the remains of textiles, including a gold thread. Historians speculated that the coffin would have been set underneath a monument to the deceased. They guess that the woman was most likely a pre-eminent member of London society. Besides the sarcophagus, a mausoleum was found and the remains of hundreds of other people, adults and children, all buried in an east-west direction.



Excavations in Southwark revealed a plaque, a dedication to the Gods of the Champagne region of France. The plaque was created by Tiberinius Celerianus, who negotiated contracts between champagne exporters and traders in London. The dedication was made specifically to the god Camulos, a God worshipped by people in the Champagne region.




A Roman tin pot, six centimetres wide, was unearthed, It contained cream, still wet and smelling sulphurous, nearly 2,000 years old, found in a Roman drain at a Roman temple complex in Southwark. The religious complex is evidence of organised religion in London at the time and opens out a previously hidden district of the ancient city.




An archaeological dig next to Trafalgar Square discovered a sarcophagus buried in what would have been the Roman Western Cemetery



In 2013 a haul of Roman remains and objects was found buried 23 foot underneath the ground, at Queen Victoria Street by Mansion House Tube station. The Roman artefacts seemed to be drawn from across the period of Roman rule in London, from 43 to 400 AD. The waterlogged environ in which the remains were encased, preserved metal objects including copper and lead, wood and leather artefacts, and even a straw basket to an unparalleled standard. Amongst the finds were several examples of an ancient type of etch-a-sketch – a wooden pad inlaid with wax. Some of the writing is legible and includes shopping lists, party invitations, a contract for the sale of a slave girl and a contract selling a five-acre wood in Kent.





In 2016 the Museum of London Archaeology found that the Romans had built a fort in London, in around about 61 AD, shortly after they had avenged the sacking of London and Colchester by the Iceni tribe. Taken together with the additional findings that a similar fort had not been built in Colchester, and that an Imperial Cult temple had also been built in London, this finding suggested that the Romans had made a conscious decision to switch the capital city of Roman Britain from Colchester to London at this time.



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