This large project comprises the publication of four archaeological excavations of 1974-81 around the north end of London Bridge in the City of London: Swan Lane (1981-2), Seal House (1974), New Fresh Wharf (1974-8) and Billingsgate Lorry Park (1982). The excavations were conducted by the Department of Urban Archaeology (DUA) of the Museum of London.

The Swan Lane and Seal House excavations lay on the upstream, west side of the present London Bridge in Upper Thames Street; New Fresh Wharf and Billingsgate lay on the downstream, east side of the present Bridge in Lower Thames Street. These two pairs of sites were similarly west and east of the north end of the medieval and Roman London bridges.

Publication of the sites

part of a ceramic figurine

A small effigy, perhaps a toy, from Cologne, from from the buildings at Billingsgate which were destroyed in the Great Fire

All four sites, being in the reclamation zone of the north bank of the Thames, found Roman and late Saxon (10th-11th century) waterfronts; these have been published. The present project is to publish an account of them in the period 1100 to 1666. This will be a key document to promote research into the thousands of artefacts and several hundred kilos of British and foreign pottery which have been found.

CoLAT has supported pieces of research and the writing of publications (articles in journals) arising out of this material over the years since the excavations. Now the project director, John Schofield, is in a position to give the publication more time and attention. The work for the publication is advanced and in progress; many aspects still require funding. Because publication (the nature of which is changing with the development of Internet-based publication) is some way in the future, CoLAT has decided to support the project by placing interim blocks of text, archive reports and other material, indexes, and relevant papers about or arising from the project on line, on this page. We hope that this encourages archaeologists to inspect this growing body of data and research.

Use of the material

A wall tile depicting a horse

17th-century houses on the London waterfront were decorated with Dutch tiles. Fragments were found at Billingsgate; this is a complete example from an excavated site nearby in Botolph Lane

You are welcome to download any of these files. If you wish to use any of them in your work, please contact John Schofield to ask permission and to get the method of citing the report correct. The project authors are happy to discuss anything emerging from the current work with colleagues. Further, we encourage students of any kind, and their supervisors, to consider conducting research on this material, perhaps on a small group of finds, pottery, or strata (contexts). The material here will be added to as the project develops.


Documents and video

Project files and Summary

TitleFile typeFile size
An illustrated summary of the whole London's Waterfront projectPDF743KB
London's Waterfront text June 2017PDF5.2MB
London’s Waterfront figures June 2017 Vol. 1PDF53MB
London’s Waterfront figures June 2017 Vol. 2PDF52.8MB
London’s Waterfront figures June 2017 Vol. 3PDF101MB

Video

Title
BBC TV Chronicle series programme on the Billingsgate excavation of 1982

Articles and journal papers

TitleFile typeFile size
'Thomas Soane's buildings near Billingsgate London, 1640-66' in Post-Medieval Archaeology 43 (2009), 282-341PDF2.8MB
'The medieval port of London: publication and research access' in London Archaeologist 13 (Winter 2012), 181-6PDF3.7MB
'William Widmore's pottery cupboard: excavations in Thames Street, London, 1974-8' in London Archaeologist 14 (2014), 19-23.PDF8.2MB

Archive reports and archive data which are currently being worked on

The archive report on the largest site, Billingsgate Lorry Park (BIG82, also called Billingsgate for short) is the narrative account of the ten stratigraphic periods on the site from the 12th century to the 18th century.

TitleFile typeFile size
Billingsgate (BIG82) Periods 8 to 17 Archive ReportPDF15.2MB
Site plans for archive report Period 8.1 to Period 12.7PDF3.7MB
Site plans for archive report Period 12.8 to Period 16.8 (the Great Fire of 1666)PDF2.5MB
Site plans for archive report Period 17.1 to Period 17.7 (post-Fire)PDF531KB
Medieval and post-medieval pottery from New Fresh WharfPDF144KB