Welcome to the Urban Archaeology blog. Freelance archaeologist Chiz Harward provides a range of on and offsite services to the archaeological profession, including running and working on excavations, post-excavation services, training and development work, and illustration work. This weblog will carry news of projects as and when they happen as well as wider thoughts on archaeological issues, especially recording, stratigraphy and training.

Mapping, dumping and dating at Minories

Evaluation work is continuing at Minories. So far the archaeological sequence is broadly as predicted in LP Archaeology's desk based assessment, and we are now down to mid 17th century levels in one trench, digging through levelling dumps containing lots of brick rubble.
The upper surface of these dumps had been levelled out to form an external surface in the mid-late 17th century, with a brick pier base suggesting a building that is not shown on Ogilby and Morgan's map of 1676. Ogilby and Morgan's mapping is known to be highly accurate and is an excellent snapshot of the built environment in the late 17th century, however the surveyors could not always access back yards and enclosed private land, and the speed of building after the Great Fire means that some buildings are missing -especially smaller or more temporary structures. The map is however by far the best City-wide survey of London before the Ordnance Survey, and is a fantastic resource for archaeologists and historians with accurate mapping of roads, yards and houses, as well as the contemporary street and place names.
There are tantalising glimpses of industrial activity within the rubble dumps including glass making waste, crucible fragments and slag, as well as Roman brick and opus signinum (which may or may not be from the adjacent Roman town wall). Closely dateable clay tobacco pipes and ceramics should allow the sequence of dumps and surfaces to be dated and the rate of the dumping worked out -is this a single, orchestrated, episode of ground levelling intended to eradicate the line of the former City Ditch, or a piece-meal and ongoing process? 

It is predicted that these dumps will seal late medieval/early post-medieval garden soils and external activity over the disused City ditch, with the disuse fills of the ditch buried beneath An adjacent borehole indicates these deposits extend to a further four metres depth from our current level, giving a total of just over 7.5m of deposits. Borehole evidence also suggests the presence of 'peaty' deposits within these fills, possibly preserved organic remains from refuse and waste dumped in the disused City ditch in the post-medieval period.