Londinium-sub-Bloomberg

The project to construct a new headquarters for media giant Bloomberg has unearthed many Roman artifacts from Roman London, known then as Londinium.

That so many artifacts, some 10000 including shoes, writing tablets and that rather pineapple like amulet,  was preserved was thanks to the boggy condition of the site.  The Walbrook stream flows from Finsbury out to the Thames near Cannon Street station. The site of discovery is not far from Cannon Street at all. The waterlogged condition prevented oxygen from reacting with the remains,  thereby protecting finds of materials including leather, iron and wood.

The site is dubbed “Pompeii of the North”, but we don’t really think it is. This is in the far corner of the Romans power where Oscan is not much spoken, if indeed it was. And the preservation is all thanks to muddy,  marshy, boggy conditions: more British than Campanian. Removing us from allusions to Pompeii (which,  as I write, is actually being exhibited only round a few blocks under the dome of the British Museum) also frees us from comparing the site against Pompeii without first analysing the site in its own right. The artifacts, streets and buildings are part of a provincial capital slowly being exposed to the Roman ways. No doubt the weather is different, which is one explanation to (perhaps) different architecture, different clothing, inter alia. Other factors lead to other differences , and the discovery may also yield differences that require existing or new factors to explain. We look forward to more work being done there.

I was en route from London Bridge to Bloomsbury to attend the Paths of Song conference at UCL’s Institute of Archaeology. The bus route passed by Cannon Street and the site and I have attached the photos from the southern end of the site below. Below are also links to articles on the discovery: we would particularly recommend Harry Mount’s in the Daily Telegraph and the photos in The Independent. The Current Archaeology article gives a comprehensive overview of the site.

Links

Walbrook Discovery Programme (The blog of the dig): http://walbrookdiscovery.wordpress.com/

Harry Mount in The Daily Telegraphhttp://ow.ly/k2p2b

Roman Empire News and Archaeology blog: http://www.romanarcheology.com/discover-roman-london/

BBC video: http://ow.ly/jXjEZ

BBC News (text): http://ow.ly/1UQavs

BBC News (photos): http://ow.ly/jV3p1

Huffington Posthttp://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/10/roman-london-uncovered-dig-pompeii-of-north_n_3054425.html

The Independent (text): http://ow.ly/jV2tI

The Independent (photos): http://ow.ly/jV3As

The Guardianhttp://ow.ly/jV2PP

Daily Mail: http://ow.ly/kiPXF

Current Archaeology (A very comprehensive article): http://www.archaeology.co.uk/articles/features/londons-pompeii-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-roman-waterfront.htm?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=londons-pompeii-the-rise-and-fall-of-a-roman-waterfront

Our photos

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The site occupies a triangular piece of land between Queen Victoria Street, Queen Street and Cannon Street. The photos above are taken from the top deck of a bus along Cannon Street, which runs along the southern limits of the site. When built Bloomberg Place will become a regional headquarters for Bloomberg, the media giant. It is hoped that some of the streetscape will be preserved; the artifacts are the property of the owner of the site, but they may well be presented as part of the new building or in the Museum of London.

(Updated on 6Jun to include the Current Archaeology article and the Walbrook Disvovery Programme.)

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