Crossrail has been called one of the greatest feats of modern engineering in the UK, however the construction of London’s newest railway, which will be known as the Elizabeth line has given archaeologists a unique chance to explore some of the city’s most historically important sites. Since work began in 2009, the project has undertaken one of the most extensive archaeological programmes ever in the UK, with findings of over 10,000 artefacts from almost every important period of the Capital’s history.
Some of these artefacts are on display in a major new exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands with opens on the 10th February 2017.
The construction of railway known as the Elizabeth Line has sliced through London from East to West and gone through many layers of London’s history. The exhibition follows the path of the new line with displays on as diverse areas such as Abbey Wood in the south-east, Canning Town, Canary Wharf, Stepney Green, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road, The West End and Paddington.
Some of the finds include
Prehistoric flints found in North Woolwich, showing evidence for Mesolithic tool making 8,000 years ago
Tudor bowling ball found at the site of the Tudor King John’s Court manor house in Stepney Green
Roman iron horse shoes found near Liverpool Street Station
Medieval animal bone skates found near Liverpool Street Station
Late 19th century ginger and jam jars from the site of the Crosse & Blackwell bottling factory near Tottenham Court Road station.
Human remains including one of the skeletons found near Liverpool Street Station from the 17th century Bedlam cemetery, which a DNA has shown died from the Plague.
Two of the most spectacular finds are not yet on display, digging under Canary Wharf, part of a woolly mammoth’s jaw bone and a fragment of amber that was estimated to be 55 million years old were found. Both items are so significant that they are currently being analysed at the Natural History Museum.
The exhibition illustrates some of the problems of London archaeology with the mystery of the Walbrook skulls which are from different periods but were all found together.
As well as the archaeological finds, large screens show how the massive engineering project of Crossrail burrowed its way beneath the London city streets and beyond and how the archaeologists worked on sites all over London to increase the historical knowledge of the city.
This fascinating free exhibition explores a modern phenomenon in which major construction sites in London are often for fixed period used for intense archaeological digs which allows a more detailed picture of London to emerge. The Crossrail excavations are on a massive scale and have produced remarkable finds that will take years to process. The exhibition offers a tantalising snapshot of the engineering and archaeological processes involved and some of the finds.
Tunnel: the archaeology of Crossrail at the Museum of London Docklands
Friday 10 February – Sunday 3 September 2017
Our Video review available here
Visiting London Guide Rating – Highly Recommended
To find out more about the exhibition, visit the Museum of London Docklands website here
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