Reviews of MOLA publications

Here is a selection of independent reviews of MOLA publications.


Lundenwic: excavations in Middle Saxon London, 1987–2000 by Robert Cowie, Lyn Blackmore, with Anne Davis, Jackie Keily, and Kevin Rielly

these keyhole sites together provide a major window onto early London, and the authors and designers of Lundenwic are to be congratulated on mustering the complex evidence of topography , structure, craft and trade with such clarity and coherence. The English might like to clobber their past, but at least they produced a generation of skilled field archaeologists…

David Miles in Minerva September/October 2013

The Augustinian nunnery of St Mary Clerkenwell, London: excavations 1974–96 by Barney Sloane

This book is an absorbing and detailed account of one of Islington’s lost institutions with a huge amount of informative material to engage both professional and interested lay person – certainly this reviewer.

Roger Simmons in Journal of the Islington Archaeological and History Society 2013


Disease in London, 1st–19th centuries: an illustrated guide to diagnosis by Don Walker

Overall, Disease in London accomplishes its goal of providing wider access to the MOLA collection. It presents interesting specimens of the Roman, Medieval and Post-Medieval periods, all accompanied by superb illustrations. The photographs included can be used for teaching the appearance of different types of lesions, while the skeletal diagrams can help understand the typical distribution of lesions in pathology. Researchers can also use the data found in this book to compare to their own specimens in order to see how the lesions differ.
Given that it is reasonably priced and considering its very helpful visual elements, Walker’s book will make a great addition to an osteology library.

Stephanie Lavallee in Journal Archaeological Science 2013

Shakespeare’s London theatreland: archaeology, history and drama by Julian Bowsher

This is an essential and accessible reference book which can be read from cover to cover for pure enjoyment.

John Earl in Theatre Magazine 2012

This is a beautifully designed book which successfully binds together a gripping and imaginative narrative with rigorous historical analysis and clear presentation of know facts and articles. …It makes a fascinating read for those already familiar with London’s early modern theatre venues, and those new to the subject.

Eleanor Collins in Around the Globe 2013

… Bowsher’s book is a comprehensive survey of the current state of knowledge of the Shakespearean theatre …

Jean Wilson in Times Literary Supplement 2013

This is a very accessible, and well-illustrated, account of the subject, and should delight anyone with an interest in theatre.

Peter Matthews in Friends News 2012

A new summary of what we know about the archaeology of Shakespeare’s theatres is both due and welcome, and Julian Bowsher, director of the Rose dig in 1989 and joint author of the final excavation report twenty years later, is the person best qualified to write it.

Norman Hammond in The Times August 2012

New Bunhill Fields burial ground, Southwark: excavations at Globe Academy, 2008 by Adrian Miles, with Brian Connell

The social context is well explored and the production is exemplary, the price is commendable too. Thanks largely to MOLA, what the city can now surpass London in terms of understanding its skeletal population?

Roger Bawdler in British Archaeology 2013

A bioarchaeological study of medieval burials on the site of St Mary Spital: excavations at Spitalfields Market, London E1, 1991–2007 by Brian Connell, Amy Gray Jones, Rebecca Redfern and Don Walker

Lasting impressions after reading this book are the sheer scale of the project and the first rate, innovative work arising out of it, in particular, with regard to phasing and digital recording. Connell et al.’s volume has been eagerly anticipated and it does not disappoint.

Louise Loe in Antiquity 2013

Overall, Connell and colleagues advance bioarchaeological research and skeletal analysis.  The monograph is well-written and provides a synthesis of the largest urban cemetery skeletal collection in Britain.  Scholars and researchers will appreciate the breadth and depth of reporting, while dilettantes in medieval studies will revel in the well-told story of St Mary Spital and the Augustinian priory and hospital of London.

Joseph T. Hefner in Historical Archaeology (US) 2013

Overall this volume reports on a remarkable achievement and represents an important addition to the academic literature, providing rich evidence that no historian of medieval Britain can afford to ignore.

Chris Galley in Local Population Studies 2013

Written by four human-bone specialists, the book successfully tackles the skeletal evidence directly, while accompanying photographs and summaries make it more accessible to the general reader. … Attractively presented, this is a delight for the enthusiast.

Emma Watts-Plumpkin in Current Archaeology 2013


The impact of the railways in the East End 1835-2010: historical archaeology from the London Overground East London line by Emma Dwyer

… this book is refreshing – imaginatively conceived, structured an illustrated. Dwyer’s is a bold attempt to move the archaeological monograph onto new ground, and very much to be supported.

Peter Guillery in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

The techniques of the archaeologist have not often been applied to railways, but this well-researched and illustrated work does so admirably. The bibliography and index are comprehensive and the book deserves to act as a model for future studies of its kind.

Graham Bird in the Journal of the Railway and Canal Historical Society 2011

 …this is a readable, well-produced and generally well-illustrated study, and it is good to see this (and the earlier general study, ‘Tracks through time’) published so promptly after the fieldwork, when some archaeological reports take decades to appear. I particularly welcome the recognition that buildings – as is well proven in this study – are in constant flux throughout their working lives, resulting in what is graphically described as ‘messy biographies’. This is surely especially true of industrial buildings!

Michael Bussell in Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society newsletter 2011

Medieval settlement to 18th-/19th-century rookery: excavations at Central St Giles, London Borough of Camden, 2006–8 by Sian Anthony

… in this case integration has been done with intelligence and due respect to the specialist reports and is highly successful. It is a fine addition to the report series the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), one of the highlights of British archaeology over the last decade.

Paul Courtney in Historical Archaeology (US) 2013

The book is an engaging introduction into the disparity between the archaeological and historical evidence prompting questions about past London’s urban life and the true nature of slums all over the capital.

Ed Johnson in LAMAS Newsletter 2013

the concluding essay, drawing the threads together, is a masterly account of the causes and consequences of abject poverty, and of a London thankfully long swept away.

Paul Stamper in British Archaeology 2011

For urban historians, and particularly those with an interest in the history and development of the English inn, this report of excavations in the neighbourhood of St Giles-in-the-Field Church in central London will be of extraordinary interest. This report reveals just how much archaeology can add to the local historian’s repertoire. These are many other important facets to this report, which is highly readable and highly recommended, which include an explanation how the area involved became known as a ‘rookery’, in other words one of the early areas of very high density population, ultimately to be described as slums.

Trevor James in Local History Magazine 2011

The development of early medieval and later Poultry and Cheapside: Excavations at 1 Poultry and vicinity, City of London by Mark Burch and Phil Treveil with Derek Keene

This volume manages the unusual trick of combining detailed archaeological and historical discussion and evidence, with the exploration of bigger narratives concerning the development of London in the post-Roman period. For this alone it should be welcomed by historians and archaeologists alike, as it presents the latest views on the chronology of the reoccupation of the walled city, the initial settlements in the environs of St Paul’s, and the spread eastwards
MOLA and its partners are to be congratulated on bringing this project to fruition, and publishing its findings in such an impressive fashion

Matthew Davies in The London Journal 2013

The 1 Poultry report forms part of the hugely impressive MOLA monograph series, and typically features numerous high quality plans, photographs and illustrations throughout. The account is detailed and has much to offer researchers of various disciplines and specialities, being of particular use to those studying late Anglo-Saxon and early medieval urbanism.

Gavin Speed in Medieval Archaeology 2012

… this is an enormously full portrait of a slice through the commercial heart of England, at the east end of the main market street of Cheapside, where detailed knowledge of the inhabitants is juxtaposed with detailed physical evidence for their buildings, activities and possessions.

John Blair in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

Read about the remarkable surviving remains which include the late 11th century church of St Benet Sherehog.

The Leader 2011

…taking us straight into a swathe of everyday properties in early medieval London.

Paul Stamper in British Archaeology 2011

The Cluniac priory and abbey of St Saviour Bermondsey, Surrey: excavations 1984–95 by Tony Dyson, Mark Samuel, Alison Steele, Susan M Wright

This report is very well illustrated and is a major contribution to monastic archaeology and the history of Bermondsey but many aspects have a wider significance.

Graham Dawson in London Archaeologist 2013

… this is a worthy addition to the MOLA monastic house series and will remain of value for many years to come.

Dennis Turner in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

The MOLA monograph series has reached 50! MOLA are to be congratulated on bringing out a fine landmark volume.

Iain Soden in Medieval Archaeology 2012

This report impressively integrates modern excavations and antiquarian observations on one of the wealthy Cluniac monasteries founded after 1066.

Paul Stamper in British Archaeology 2011

This book will fascinate anyone who has an interest in the subject and will stimulate other people to learn more about archaeology.

The Peckham Society News 2011

For Vidimus readers the immediate interest of this book will be the references to glazing schemes at the monastery, but this is only a small part of what can only be described as a superb study of this once important church and claustral complex which now lies below Bermondsey Square

Vidimus 2012

Holywell Priory and the development of Shoreditch to c 1600: archaeology from the London Overground East London Line by Raoul Bull, Simon Davis, Hana Lewis, Christopher Phillpotts, with Aaron Birchenough

Copiously and elegantly illustrated, this is a good addition to the study of the monastic landscape of medieval London and its surroundings …

Deidre O’Sullivan in Medieval Archaeology 2012

What is compelling  about the volume is its presentation of a narrative from prehistory until just after the Dissolution, which weaves the majority of the specialist information inot its structure…It is splendidly illustrated throughout, as one has come to expect from MOLA monograph series, and is reasonably priced for an attractive hardback.

Michael Shapland in Church Archaeology 2012

Archaeological Landscapes of East London: six multi-period sites excavated in advance of gravel quarrying in the London Borough of Havering by Isca Howell, Dan Swift and Bruce Watson with Jon Cotton and Pamela Greenwood

This book will be of interest to anyone who wishes to understand the changing landscape of the region over time, and is a must-have for those involved in fieldwork in east  London and Essex, especially for the book’s extensive bibliography.

Alistair Ainsworth in London Archaeologists 2013

…it does summarise the fieldwork nicely, placing what can be relatively sparse evidence into a well rounded narrative and should be useful to anyone interested in the archaeology of the Thames area.

John Naylor in Journal of the Medieval Settlement Research Group 2012

This important publication is the result of a project funded by the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund. It rescues a large amount of archaeological information from obscurity but also places it in context to give a well-researched and well-presented story.

David Bird in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

Local history is, in effect, at its most expansive an inter-disciplinary approach to every aspect of the historic local landscape. Archaeological reports, such as this from Museum of London Archaeology, readily inform such an inter-disciplinary approach. The science which archaeologists apply is now giving immeasurable insights into the lives of people who lived where we live but who, unlike us, have left no written records. We now know something of their lifestyle and even their diets, and this gives us greater insight into the degree to which people had already made their mark on the landscape, well before the Roman occupation. Such reports as this should become part of the reference repertoire of local historians.

Trevor James in Local History Magazine 2011

The Royal Ordnance Factory at Hayes: the story of a World War II gun and tank factory at Hayes in the London Borough of Hillingdon by Nick Holder

The use of oral history materials throughout …. Alongside the excellent and plentiful photographs and plans these bring the site to life, and make an interesting and attractive book that is likely to be of value to school students and Second World War history enthusiasts as well as those who worked at ROF Hayes and their families.

Gabriel Moshenska in London Archaeologist 2012

Three Ways Wharf, Uxbridge: a Lateglacial and Early Holocene hunter-gatherer site in the Colne valley by John S C Lewis with James Rackham

This publication has been well worth waiting for. … It is very greatly to the credit of the authors that what has eventually emerged is not only sufficiently up-to-date but provides a model presentation to which more recent work can aspire.

Andrew David in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

This is an excellent monograph of a rare Lateglacial site from which fauna, spatial patterning and activity areas have been recovered. It is a major European Lateglacial archaeological site and its publication has been well worth waiting for.

Paul Petitt in Antiquity 2012

Londinium: a new map and guide to Roman London by MOLA

… this map is a remarkable achievement, drawing together the range of archaeological work of the last three decades into a powerful synthesis. It is a must-buy for anyone interested in Roman London, from the visitor to the scholar.

Tim Williams in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

The excellent, up-to-date, fold out Londinium map has ‘landscape indicators’ making it easy to gain a proper fell for the Roman settlement including north Southwark.

David Bird in British Archaeology 2011

The modern street layout is as a buff background, with the Roman plan boldly superimposed: with Londinium in hand, one can walk through the City and envisage that lost world of Caesars beneath our feet.

Norman Hammond in The Times 3rd December 2011

It is well worth the effort!

Anon in Local History News 2012

The Cistercian abbey of St Mary Graces, East Smithfield, London by Ian Grainger and Christopher Phillpotts

… the layout of the caustral complex is expertly reconstructed in fine detail by synthesising a remarkable variety of data sources to excellent effect. ..It is refreshing and commendable that these findings are carefully related to wide research themes… so that we are afforded a rich and rounded picture of a Remarkable Cistercian House that was a one-off.

Oliver Creighton in Church Archaeology 2012

… the Museum of London [Archaeology] and English Heritage have done their utmost to produce a volume worthy of what King Edward III originally intended for the site.

Brian Davison in Transactions of London and Middlesex Archaeology Society 2011

Throughout, one is struck by the quality of the research undertaken.

Glyn Coppack in Medieval Archaeology 2011

Roman London and the Walbrook stream crossing: excavations at 1 Poultry and vicinity, City of London by Julian Hill and Peter Rowsome

... the book is easy to navigate thanks the narrative style, index and many detailed, well designed plans. Roman specialists pore over them. They could equally be dipped into by imaginative school teachers or anyone curious about the world of Roman Britain. The archaeology has matched Palumbo’s ambition for1 Poultry.

Mike Pitts in British Archaeology 2012