Preserving the past

Learning more about London’s ancient settlements

While rebuilding some of London’s most iconic landmark stations the Thameslink Programme unearthed history that had previously been buried deep beneath the soil for thousands of years. The Programme worked closely with its partners, including Costain, Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology, to learn more about the history of the ancient settlements around London and share the findings with a wider audience.

Discoveries at London Bridge

Hundreds of historic artefacts were discovered and preserved during excavations under the ancient arches of London Bridge station. They included a wealth of everyday objects used by people who lived and worked in the area over the preceding centuries, and offered insight into the very first settlement at London Bridge.

Artefacts included:

  • Timber piles constructed from trees felled between AD59 to AD83, which may have formed part of a substantial waterfront building on the edge of the settlement south of the first London Bridge
  • Medieval floor and wall fragments which may have been part of the large houses along Tooley Street, which are known to have belonged to important clerics such as the Prior of Lewes
  • Kilns for making clay tobacco pipes, dating from the 16th to 18th centuries.

Discoveries at Borough

Archaeological work during construction of the Borough Viaduct uncovered an array of remains from the Roman, Saxon, medieval and more recent periods. They provided a fascinating insight into the formation and growth of the ancient settlement at Southwark.

Some of the most fascinating finds included:

  • Traces of early Roman military occupation
  • Evidence for the Boudican revolt
  • A Roman bathhouse under Borough High Street, that was previously unknown
  • Substantial evidence for the Saxon / medieval defences of the settlement
  • The remains of townhouses belonging to important medieval clerics and the St. Saviour’s / Park Street burial ground.

The future

The results of our work are currently being analysed by archaeology experts from Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology for future publication. All the finds and records will be deposited with the Museum of London.