We interrupt the non-stop broadcast of matters to do with the late great Prime Minister to bring news of a stunning archaeological find in the City of London. As the BBC put it yesterday, entire streets of Roman London are being uncovered. The preservation of the many objects and parts of buildings has led to people referring to this as the "Pompeii of the north" and it is assumed that our knowledge and understanding of Roman London will be transformed.
One of the most important finds, as today's article in the Evening Standard explains, is a batch of about 100 wax tablets "which are written records and which experts hope will reveal the names of Roman Londoners and the streets they lived on". A directory of Roman London. What could be more exciting?
Interestingly, the site was supposed to have been thoroughly excavated in the fifties when the Temple of Mithras was found. It seems not.
The Roman temple of Mithras — dating from the 3rd century AD — was discovered in 1954 and experts from the Museum of London Archaeology believed that the surviving parts of the temple had already been fully excavated and dismantled, and that no other remains would have survived the extensive building work of the Fifties and Sixties.The remains of the temple will now be moved back to where they were found in the first place and the new discoveries properly exhibited. Eventually. Oh yes, and Bloomberg will have their new headquarters.
However, they were astonished to discover even more of the temple, including walls to the vestry and other finds which will help to put it into context.
“All the 50 archaeologists who are working on site at the moment know they are unlikely to see one like it again,” said project manager Sophie Jackson. “Why the site is so incredibly important is the quality of the preservation of the archaeological finds that are normally lost or decayed on other sites.”
Finds include the second Roman door to be discovered in the capital, a complete amber gladiator amulet, the largest ever collection of good luck charms in the shape of phalluses and fists, and a giant decorated piece of leather that is believed to be part of an item of soft furnishing, and which is without parallel in the known Roman world.