Temple Of Mithras: Were You There?

M@
By M@ Last edited 41 months ago
Temple Of Mithras: Were You There?
Visitors on the Temple of Mithras excavation site , Walbrook London, 1954
Visitors on the Temple of Mithras excavation site. (c) Museum of London.
Excavation of the temple. (c) Ivor Noel Hume.
Excavation of the temple. (c) Ivor Noel Hume.
Relief sculpture of Mithras with sacrificial scene of Mithras slaying the bull. Mithras is seen here stabbing the bull from whose blood springs all earthly life. He is accompanied by the torch of bearers, Cautes and Cautopates. Signs of the zodiac and gods frame the relief. The cults of Mithras and Isis were brought to London by the Romans and gained great popularity.
Relief sculpture of Mithras, 3rd century, found on the site. Mithras is seen here stabbing the bull from whose blood springs all earthly life. He is accompanied by the torch of bearers, Cautes and Cautopates. Signs of the zodiac and gods frame the relief. The cults of Mithras and Isis were brought to London by the Romans and gained great popularity. (c) Museum of London.
The Head of Sepharis discovered  at excavation site of the Temple of Mithras , Walbrook, London, 1954.
The Head of Sepharis discovered at excavation site in 1954. (c) Museum of London.
The 1960s reconstruction of the temple of Mithras. (c) MOLA.
The 1960s reconstruction of the temple of Mithras. (c) MOLA.
Emergency water supply at Queen Victoria Street. Looking across the emergency water supply in Queen Victoria street to Walbrook and Bond Court. To the left of the traction engine is St. Stephen's Church. Photograph by Arthur Cross / Fred Tibbs
The Temple of Mithras site shown in the rubble-strewn aftermath of the Second World War. © Museum of London, By Kind Permission of The Commissioner of the City of London Police.

60 years ago, archaeologists digging in the London clay disturbed an ancient god from its centuries-long slumber. A Roman temple devoted to Mithras, a mysterious deity with Persian origins, was uncovered among the war rubble of the Square Mile. It dated back to 240 AD, and was one of the most important archaeological finds in London's history. Tens of thousands of people queued up to glimpse this long-forgotten temple.

To mark the anniversary, an oral history project is capturing Mithraic memories. Were you one of the thousands who visited the dig all those years ago? Perhaps your parents or grandparents went along for a peek at Londinium. If so, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) would like to hear from you. Call them on 020 7410 2266, or email oralhistory@mola.org.uk.

The temple itself has led a troubled life since its rediscovery in 1954. It was initially boxed up and hidden away, before reconstruction 100 metres from its original location. Then, a few years ago, it was taken apart once again to make way for the vast new headquarters of Bloomberg, currently under construction. It is perhaps the only temple to be twice put into storage. The good news is that it shall return. The building's owners agreed to reinstall the temple on its original site, accompanied by a small visitor centre that will tell its complicated story. It will open in 2017. The queues are unlikely to reach the lengths seen in 1954, but for anyone who remembers the temple's previous sorry setting, this is welcome news indeed.

Last Updated 24 September 2014

Josephine

I watched the whole excavation from an office on the ninth floor of a building across the street.. It was very exciting as they uncovered 2000 years of dirt and rubble.

Toby

I was 14, and going to visit the excavation awakened a lifelong interest in the history of all the places around me.
So 60 years later thank you ........

Charlotte

Josephine and Toby, please get in touch with us at oralhistory@mola.org.uk or give us a call on 0207 410 2266 we'd really love to hear your stories, even if they're only brief!
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Charlotte