In Londinium, many of the fine inhabitants spend a fair chunk of time underground, using that handy service that takes us to our desired stops. A discovery yesterday (June 13) – one that lies somewhere between the rattling Tube lines and the surface of the city – is less about our journey from A to B, however, and more about a mausoleum dating back to the early years of AD (around 43-410, to be more precise).
A stunning Roman tomb has been unearthed in a dig by Museum Of London Archeology (MOLA), revealing ancient mosaics that have been described by experts as “completely unique”. In February last year, a dig at the same site revealed some of the largest mosaics discovered in London for fifty years, and further excavations have found even more where that came from.
The Roman Tomb at London Bridge
Lying just beside Borough Market and London Bridge station, the tomb has remained at a level of preservation that makes it the most intact Roman mausoleum to be discovered in Britain. It only begs the question as to whether any Romans wandering around the city in 100AD predicted that a street food hub would be in full flow above it 2,000 years later.
Images display a stunning central mosaic sitting atop a raised platform where burials were placed. Walls and interior flooring were also been uncovered, with theories suggesting it was a two-storey building prior to its dismantling.
There were no coffins on the site, but archeologists did come across 100 coins and items of scrap metal, as well as pieces of pottery and roof tiles. The surrounding area also contained around 80 burials, where items including copper bracelets, glass beads and a bone comb were discovered.
MOLA have carried out the excavations on behalf of Landsec and TfL (owners of the site), alongside Southwark Council. It’s part of a joint partnership on the Liberty Of Southwark to restore the site and maintain it. In the future, it is hoped this can make up a display of the mausoleum that will be publically accessible.
Speaking on the discovery, Antonietta Lerz, Senior Archaeologist at MOLA, said: “This relatively small site in Southwark is a microcosm for the changing fortunes of Roman London – from the early phase of the site where London expands and the area has lavishly decorated Roman buildings, all the way through to the later Roman period when the settlement shrinks and it becomes a more quiet space where people remember their dead.
“It provides a fascinating window into the living conditions and lifestyle in this part of the city in the Roman period.”