Thameslink Programme Supports the National Archaeology Festival at Southwark Cathedral

Thameslink Programme Supports the National Archaeology Festival at Southwark Cathedral

The Thameslink Programme, a government funded £7bn project to improve rail connections and capacity across London and the south east, has supported the National Archaeology Festival as part of a day of events about local archaeology at Southwark Cathedral.

Amelia Fairman, one of the archaeologists who worked on the excavations at Borough Viaduct and London Bridge, helped celebrate the festival by explaining some of the finds which were made during the rebuilding of central London’s first ever terminus station and the building of a new railway viaduct through the historic Borough Market area.

The Thameslink Programme has been responsible for unearthing history that had been buried deep beneath the soil for thousands of years working closely with partners, including Costain, Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology, to learn more about the history of the ancient settlements around London and share our findings with a wider audience.

Artefacts found include 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. Another find included a 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.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the discoveries was that of a Roman-era bath house, discovered underneath what now forms 11-15 Borough High Street. Bath houses were important social hubs in Roman society, and this one even featured an underfloor heating system. This is now a scheduled ancient monument and important, previously unknown evidence of significant Roman activity on the south side of the river in London.

London Bridge station, Britain’s fourth largest, was officially reopened by HRH the Duke of Cambridge on 9 May following a five year rebuild which saw the entire station completely demolished, remodelled and rebuilt with more space and better facilities for passengers. Combined with the Bermondsey Dive Under, a new rail underpass on the approach to the station, 30% more trains and 66% more passengers can use the station compared to before.

Amelia Fairman is a Senior Archaeologist at Pre-Construct Archaeology and Oxford Archaeology, the team that undertook the Thameslink fieldwork. Amelia supervised several of the excavations across the project and is one of the principal authors of one of the upcoming monographs. More information can be found at: www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk/

The Government-sponsored £7bn Thameslink Programme is an ambitious 10 year programme to transform north-south travel through London. It is delivering new longer and more spacious trains running every 2 to 3 minutes through central London in the peak, improved connections to more destinations on an expanded Thameslink network including Cambridge and Peterborough and more robust tracks and modern signalling using digital railway technology to make journeys more reliable. The Programme has also completely rebuilt stations at Blackfriars and London Bridge.

The Thameslink Programme is being delivered in partnership between the Department for Transport, Network Rail, Govia Thameslink Railway, Southeastern and Siemens.