Spitalfields Market redevelopment

Region: London E1

An exhibition space. A visitor is standing in front of a large display panel showing photos of artefacts and of archaeologists at work on site.

The task: This was the largest archaeological project ever undertaken in London. MOLA was appointed archaeological contractor for the entire scheme and conducted an archaeological investigation of the 1.5 hectare site in Tower Hamlets, involving over 50 buildings and a cemetery of a medieval priory. Up to 110 archaeologists, surveyors, osteologists, finds staff, environmental archaeologists and photographers worked on the project.

The result: Heritage incorporated. The redevelopment project won planning permission in 2002. The unexpected discovery of a medieval Charnel House on the site at first appeared to be a problem, but, through careful management of the project, it was turned into an opportunity. We worked with English Heritage to obtain a grant and incorporate the find within the foundations of the regeneration scheme, and provided design advice on visitor space. We also curated an exhibition on the discovery which attracted 27,000 visitors, while a further 11,000 attended inked events held at the Museum of London. Alongside other benefits to the local communities, the project has also led to a high quality popular book and series of academic publications.