Roman Archaeology in the Upper Reaches of the Walbrook Valley


Excavations at 6–8 Tokenhouse Yard, London EC2

Jim Leary and Jonathan Butler, 2012.

PCA Monograph 14

ISBN 978-0956305459


The Walbrook was undoubtedly a powerful and important feature of Roman London. Its marshy upper reaches comprised a network of streams, progressively modified and reclaimed throughout the Roman period and beyond. Two small yet deep trenches excavated in advance of development at Tokenhouse Yard provided a fascinating opportunity to explore this part of the Roman city.

Excavations here revealed an early channel of the Walbrook, infilled around the time of the conquest. By the mid first century AD, two parallel fences had been constructed either side of an alley. In the backyard of an associated building were found the remains of a tree stump belonging to the Pomoideae group, possibly a crab apple. Amongst a remarkably preserved finds assemblage seventeen near identical copper alloy studs from a belt, dated to the late first century AD, hint at a military presence.

The construction of a series of timber-lined box drains, interspersed with episodic ground raising deposits, reflect repeated attempts to reclaim land and control the ever-present risk of flooding. Excellent preservation of waterlogged timbers enabled a program of tree ring dating which, combined with the recovered pottery assemblage, has allowed for exceptionally close dating of the archaeological sequence. A cremated sheep carcass, a ceramic cockerel and a miniature shoe are among many objects that suggest the repeated placing of votive offerings into this waterlogged area.

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