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10,000 years of London’s hidden history to be unveiled in series of Crossrail archaeology books

By Andrew Dempsey

10,000 years of London’s hidden history to be unveiled in series of Crossrail archaeology books
  • 10 books will explore findings of UK’s biggest archaeology programme
  • Over 10,000 archaeological and geological artefacts spanning 55 million years have been uncovered during construction of Crossrail
  • First two books look east to a lost Victorian ship building company and a late medieval and Tudor moated manor house

The discoveries unearthed during the construction of Europe’s largest infrastructure project are to be explored in a series of ten new books by Crossrail, Oxford Archaeology Ramboll and the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA).

Since construction began in 2009, more than 200 archaeologists have unearthed over 10,000 objects from 40 locations, spanning 55 million years. The new railway, which will operate as the Elizabeth line when the services open for passengers in December 2018, runs east to west through some of the capital’s most significant historical areas.

Crossrail archaeology route map

Jay Carver, Crossrail Lead Archaeologist said: “The construction of Crossrail has given archaeologists a rare and exciting opportunity to excavate and study areas of London that would ordinarily be inaccessible. Our aim is to shine a light on the past, and make sense of a jig-saw of evidence to tell a story that takes the reader on a journey of discovery about this incredible city and its people.”

The first two books to be published look at Worcester House, a late medieval and Tudor moated manor house in Stepney Green and The Thames Ironworks, one of Britain’s great and innovative shipbuilders located on the River Thames between 1837 and 1912.

Dave Sankey, MOLA senior archaeologist and author of Stepney Green: moated manor house to city farm, said: “This dig has really brought to life the history of this part of east London and through community digs has provided an opportunity for local people to uncover their local heritage. The book highlights the range of archaeological discoveries made, including a 15th Century moated mansion, a 16th Century bowling ball and fine Italian glassware. It also includes personal accounts from local people that lived in the area during WWII, bringing this account of the East End up to the modern day.”

Danny Harrison, MOLA senior archaeologist and author of The Thames Iron Works 1837-1912: a major shipbuilder on the Thames, said: “Excavating the remains of the Thames Iron Works for Crossrail provided a remarkable opportunity to uncover the workings of one of Britain’s great Victorian shipbuilders. Combining the archaeological findings with historical accounts, drawings, maps and photographs has revealed the forgotten story of the people that worked at the iron works. It also sheds light on many of their fascinating projects, from the HMS Warrior- the first armour-plated, iron-hulled ocean-going warship, to the cylinder ship Cleopatra that transported Cleopatra’s Needle from Egypt.”

The full series of 10 books will be published over the next 18 months, and will explore a wide range of periods and locations, including: Historic buildings along the route; Railway heritage; the development of Soho and the West End; the Crosse & Blackwell factory at Tottenham Court Road; the investigations at Charterhouse Square at Farringdon; Pre-historic east London; and the Roman and Post-Medieval remains at Liverpool Street.

The books are available to purchase on the Museum of London Archaeology website.

The books will be supplemented by the release of Crossrail’s Fieldwork Reports - extensive technical papers that provide a much greater level of detail and further information on the excavations and their findings. All the Fieldwork Reports will be available on Crossrail’s Learning Legacy website next month.

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For further information contact the Crossrail Press Office on 020 3229 9552 or email pressoffice@crossrail.co.uk

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