See The Treasures Uncovered By Crossrail

Tunnel: The Archaeology Of Crossrail ★★★★★

James Drury
By James Drury Last edited 9 months ago

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See The Treasures Uncovered By Crossrail Tunnel: The Archaeology Of Crossrail 5

See The Treasures Uncovered By Crossrail from Londonist on Vimeo.

London's most extraordinary infrastructure project in decades uncovered astonishing items from the city's past, but until now we've only been able to look at photos of them.

Taking you on a journey from east to west through nine key archaeological digs along the line, Tunnel: The Archaeology Of Crossrail showcases 500 of the 10,000 items found since construction started in 2009.

In the extreme east and west of the city, pre-historic finds such as animal bones were discovered, but as you get into central London there are many more human civilisation discoveries.

Flint fragments left by ancient man making a tool 8,000 years ago are on display, alongside many of the incredible items uncovered during fruitful digs near Liverpool Street and Moorgate, such as burial grounds and many Roman items.

Human remains found near Liverpool Street on the site of the New Churchyard, also known as the Old Bethlehem Burying Ground, or Bedlam. It is thought to have been dug during one of the outbreaks of plague in the 16th or 17th century.

One fascinating object — demonstrating the carefulness with which excavation took place — is this house mouse jawbone, complete with teeth:

Tiny mouse jaw bone.

Among Roman items on display is this extremely rare copper alloy medallion found at the excavations at Liverpool Street. In Roman times the site lay on the eastern bank of the Walbrook river. This may look like a coin but it in fact is a very rare medallion of the Emperor Philip I. It's only the second example ever found in Europe:

Highly detailed, but accessible for all ages, it's interesting to discover how deep the discoveries were made compared with the depth of the Crossrail tunnels.

There are also more recent items, such as the huge haul of marmalade and other preserves discovered at the Crosse and Blackwell factory, and a display of items which used to be at the now-demolished Astoria.

Alongside the historical artefacts are explanations of the engineering feats that were necessary during one of Europe's largest infrastructure projects.

There's more information about how the items were recovered during the project in this video:

There's so much packed into this exhibition, but with so much to cover — geographically as well as historically — it never gets stodgy; if anything we're left wanting more. Lively, fun and suitable for all ages, this is a must-see for anyone who's wondered what's been going on behind the many hoardings that have dominated the city for so long.

Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail is at Museum of London Docklands from 10 February-3 September. Entry is free.

Last Updated 16 February 2017