London Archaeologist is one of those subscription-only magazines that’s almost impossible to buy individually, and few general libraries carry (I’m guessing Greenwich Heritage Centre gets it, but wouldn’t swear to it.) I’ve been subscribing for several years now for that very reason – you can’t pick and choose, but if you like London and you like archaeology, even if it’s not ‘your’ area, it’s still something to read cover to cover and enjoy.
Obviously there’s always loads about the City (yes, even this edition has a feature), not least because there’s always some building being demolished and redeveloped as something with seventy storeys, but I love reading about the City, and they do cover all kinds of stuff too – anything within the M25 area.
Greenwich has been pretty poorly served in the past year or so, but the Winter 2012/13 (Vol 13, No.7) edition is making up for that in spades (well, okay, trowels.)
It’s a special issue about archaeology on the Thames and there are three articles that include digs I’d call ‘local’ – though they’re not necessarily very recent.
The main excitement for me was a six-page, in-depth article about the dig at Anchor Iron Wharf. If you’re a bit hazy about where that is, think the modern develoment of flats with the Cutty Sark Pub on one side and the power station on the other – basically the bit where there’s apartments over a never-used riverside restaurant. The dig took place between 2001-2003, so we’re not looking at hot news here, but I guess that’s the speed that general archaeology goes at (as opposed to big-hitters like the Staffordshire Hoarde and Richard III’s maybe/maybe-not bones…)
It’s a fascinating account, not just of the history of Old Court from non-prehistoric evidence, through more exciting, possibly Royal, Tudor buildings to the site’s acquisition by Morden College, who, given that they own pretty much everything around those parts, probably still hold it, but also of the dig itself, and the issues created by ‘considerable ground contamination,’ not least more than 100 shells left over from WWII.
Further downstream, in an article called Ship to Shore, there is a small piece about the warship remains that still lie on the shore in Charlton just outside the Anchor and Hope, the wonderful Great Eastern launchsite, plus the remains of four wooden craft at Tripcockness, east of Woolwich (and a place of which I had never heard…)
I always enjoy London Archeaology, though it’s usually of rather academic interest for a Greenwich Phantom. This edition, though, really is worth trying to get hold of. The rest of it’s interesting, too. I utterly love the medieval shoes on the front cover, part of a haul of 417 of them (there’s always an odd one, isn’t there…) found at the site of Baynard’s Castle in Westminster, and the story of Thomas Gresham’s shipwreck is also well worth a read.