Crossrail sites reveal more exciting archaeology

08 August 2013

MOLA archaeologists working on Crossrail have discovered rare evidence of humans living on the Thames 9,000 year ago, in southeast London.

The discovery of a Mesolithic ‘tool-making factory’ which included 150 pieces of flint, among them blades, were found at Crossrail’s tunnelling worksite in North Woolwich. It is believed that prehistoric Londoners were using the site to test, divide and prepare river cobbles used to make flint tools, before transporting them to another site to complete the tool-making process.

MOLA archaeologist excavating burial

Crossrail Lead Archaeologist Jay Carver said: “This is a unique and exciting find that reveals evidence of humans returning to England and in particular the Thames Valley after a long hiatus during the Ice Age. It is one of a handful of archaeology sites uncovered that confirms humans lived in the Thames Valley at this time.”

Also discovered is the first piece of gold on the project, a 16th Century gold coin that was used as a pendent or similar, worn by the likes of wealthy aristocrats and royalty. Found at Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station site, it is unknown how such a precious and expensive gold item made its way to what was then regarded as a deprived area.

At Liverpool Street, archaeologists are also uncovering layers of London’s history including the 16th Century Bedlam burial ground and Roman London.

An exceptionally well-made Roman road has also been uncovered, where a strange find of human bone in the foundations has surprised archaeologists. Roman horse shoes (hipposandals) have also been found in the road.

Archaeologists are hopeful that when they start large scale excavations to remove 3,000 skeletons from the 17th Century burial ground next year, they will also locate more of the Roman road, along with foundations of Roman buildings that stood alongside the road.

Jay Carver continued: “This location in the heart of Liverpool Street holds a rich deposit of archaeology that provides an insight into London’s history over the last 2,000 years. Work to relocate local utilities is providing us with a tantalising glimpse of important finds just a few metres below street-level. We plan to excavate the Bedlam burial ground next year and carefully remove up to 3,000 skeletons as well as excavate a wider area to unearth Roman London.”

For more information please contact the Crossrail helpdesk on helpesk@crossrail.co.uk.