Fig. 63. Burial Urns, &c. (¼).
It was customary for a Roman town to bury its dead outside the inhabited area and, where possible,
within easy reach of a road. The distribution of Roman burials at various periods in and around London
may therefore be expected to throw some light upon the growth of the city and the direction of its
The evidence is analysed and discussed in the Introduction (p. 29), and here it will suffice to tabulate
the material under three headings: (A) Burials within the compass of the Roman town-wall; (B) Burials
without, but close to the town-wall; and (C) More remote burials within the London district. Under
(A) a further distinction is made between cemeteries which must have been more or less recognised by the
urban authorities and are therefore of definite historical significance, and isolated burials, of which the
historical implication is necessarily less certain. For the present purpose, a group of three or more burials
is regarded as a cemetery.
Certain intentional omissions from the following lists call for notice. First, the tombstones found in
various parts of the City and its environs are in no case recorded to have been found in situ and cannot
therefore be cited as evidence for the distribution of burials. Secondly, certain burials recorded in
previous lists and maps are not clearly of Roman date, and are therefore here omitted. Thirdly, many
of the older records of supposed burials are of very doutbful validity and seem rather to indicate
discoveries of occupation-débris than of definite interments. Finally, several urns from London now
preserved in museums are described as "cinerary," but, though in some cases they are probably derived
from burials, definite evidence as to their original purpose is now lacking; only those, therefore, which are
still associated with bones are included. It may be added that the retention of all doubtful examples
would not in any way modify the distribution of the cemeteries or affect any historical inferences which
they may support.
(A). Burials Within the Compass of the Roman Town-Wall.
(i) Cemeteries.—Two cemeteries have been recorded, one to the E. of the Walbrook and the other
(a large one) to the W. of it.
A.—Camomile Street. In this street, adjoining Bishopsgate, some old houses were pulled down in 1707 and a
tessellated pavement (p. 111) was found about 4 ft. below
the surface. "Sinking downwards, under the Pavement,
only Rubbish occurred for about two Foot: and then the
Workmen came to a Stratum of Clay; in which, at the
Depth of two Foot more, they found several Urns ....
All of these had in them, Ashes, and Cinders, of burn'd
Bones. Along with the Urns were found various other
Earthen Vessels .... as also a Coin of Antoninus Pius"
(which presumably also antedated the pavement). . . .
"At about the same depth .... but nearer to the CityWall, and within the Verge of the Pavement, was digg'd up
an Human Skull, with several Bones, that were whole, and
had not passed the Fire, as those in the Urns had"
[J. Woodward, in a letter to Wren, published by T. Hearne
in his edition of Leland, VIII (1744), 13].
B.—Under and to the N. of St. Paul's Cathedral,
numerous Roman burials have been found since the 17th
century, and probably formed part of a single cemetery
extending from Warwick Square on the W. to the southern
end of St. Martin's-le-Grand on the E. The greater part
of the surviving relics from these burials is of early, probably
pre-Flavian, date, but one of the urns from Warwick
Square may be of the early 2nd century and the inhumationburial from Paternoster Row is not likely to be much earlier
than A.D. 200. Whether any of the inhumation-burials
found by Wren's workmen at St. Paul's should be regarded
as Roman is of course uncertain. Gravestones and burials
of early 11th-century date have been found in this neighbourhood, and some of those noted by Wren may be of
The individual sites within this area are the southern
end of St. Martin's-le-Grand (with Cheapside), St. Paul's
Cathedral, Paternoster Row, and Warwick Square.
Fig. 63, 1. St. Martin's-le-Grand. Grey urn containing
burnt bones. Analogous to Silchester type 171, dated
vaguely as pre-Flavian. It would be safer to ascribe it to
the second half of the 1st century [Guildhall Museum
Cat., p. 20, No. 312].
Fig. 63, 2. Dark grey urn containing burnt bones, a
fragment of iron, two fragments of glass, some lumps of
vitreous matter, a bone pin, bone discs, a globular bead,
and a bone object in the form of a flattened oval having
on one face six indented dots, and on the other five dots,
with four and three dots on the two narrow sides respectively; found May, 1870, at the corner of Newgate Street.
The urn is of markedly "Celtic" type; compare Richborough type 19, dated "Claudian" [Guildhall Museum
Cat., p. 20, No. 308, and Pl. VI, 10].
Fig. 63, 3. Dark grey urn containing burnt bones.
Ornamented with horizontal grooves and vertical combed
striations. The type, sometimes known as the butt-shaped
beaker, is widely distributed in the Rhineland and southern
Britain and, in very slightly varying forms, ranges from
the 1st century B.C. to the 2nd century A.D. It occurs with
pedestal pottery at Aylesford, Swarling and elsewhere
(Smarting, type 34 and p. 126) and with Roman pottery
at Wroxeter (1914 Report, type 71) [Guildhall Museum
Cat., p. 20, No. 314]. The present example may be
ascribed to the 1st century A.D.
Fig. 63, 4. Bowl of reddish-brown ware, with bead-rim,
horizontal grooves and perforated base. Contains burnt
bones, and was found in 1876. It belongs to the
Richborough types 18 and 19, both dated "Claudian"
[Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 18, No. 276].
Fig. 63, 5.—Butt-shaped beaker of buff ware, containing
burnt bones. Decorated with horizontal grooves and a
band of engine-turning. Probably second half of 1st
century A.D. See above No. 3 [Guildhall Museum Cat.,
p. 92, No. 333].
Fig. 63, 6.—Grey urn, said to have contained bones
when found, and covered by the bottom of a large buff
vessel. It belongs to a pre-Roman type of bead-rim pot,
and is not likely to be later than the middle of the
1st century A.D. The find-spot was in the S.W. corner of
the General Post Office site [Guildhall Museum].
Cheapside. A burial found in 1879 "near the
W. end of Cheapside" probably belongs to the same
cemetery. In the gravel "at a depth of about 18 ft. below
the footpath of Cheapside .... one of the workmen dug
out a mass of rough earthenware, within which, as he said,
was a mass of bones. . . . When perfect it must have had
a diameter at its widest part of about 11 in. and a height
of 8½ in. It is narrow at the base (about 4 in.), increases
rapidly in width to a height of 6 in. then contracting again,
it terminates in a reflected lip, the aperture being about
7 in. in diameter. . . . The outer surface is dark and
apparently discoloured by smoke. . . . The size of the
bones indicates a small person, possibly a female. . . .
They have been subjected to a great heat. . . . Two of
the bones which seem to be portions of the humeri, are
partly surrounded by green glass, and this must evidently
have been in a state of partial fusion when it became
pressed round them" [Journ. Roy. Arch. Inst., XXXIX,
St. Paul's. During the digging for the foundations of
Wren's church, below mediæval interments were discovered
"British graves, where were found ivory and wooden pins,
of a hard wood seemingly box, in abundance, of about 6 in.
long; it seems the bodies were only wrapped up, and
pinned in woollen shrouds, which being consumed the
pins remained entire. In the same row and deeper, were
Roman urns intermixed: this was 18 ft. deep or more,
and belonged to the colony when Romans and Britains
lived and died together. The most remarkable Roman
urns, lamps, lachrymatories and fragments of sacrificing
vessels, etc., were found deep in the ground towards the
N.E. corner of St. Paul's Church, near Cheapside" [Wren,
Parentalia, 1750, p. 266].
"In August, 1869, some workmen, excavating a foundation close to St. Paul's Cathedral, exhumed the skeleton
of a female nearly perfect. By the side of the skeleton
were the bronze armlets and the ring now exhibited .
The armlets are of a somewhat common type. The ring
has a square front to the hoop, and is surmounted by the
peculiar emblem of Diana, the crescent moon. It appears
to be intended for the first or second finger" [S. M. Mayhew,
Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc., XXVIII, 194].
Paternoster Row. About 1839, near the corner of
Cannon Alley, towards the W. end of Paternoster Row,
at a depth of rather more than 12½ ft. was found "a
skeleton in a framework of tiles, an interment analogous
to that found in Bow Lane" [C. Roach Smith, Arch.,
XXIX, 155]. Roach Smith regarded the burial as
"deposited long anterior to the construction of the pavement" which was found at the same time (see Inventory,
Warwick Square. In 1881, during alterations to the
premises of Messrs. J. Tylor and Sons, about 100 ft. within
the town-wall south of Newgate were found at least eight
incineration-burials, now in the British Museum. They
lay in disturbed gravel at a depth of 18 or 19 ft. They are
described by A. Tylor, Arch., XLVIII, 221, and include:—
Pl. 59. A vase of grey igneous rock, 2¼ ft. high and
carved out of a single stone. It was covered with a lid of
similar stone and contained burnt bones with a coin of
Claudius minted in A.D. 41.
Pl. 56. Four leaden cylinders or "ossuaria" were
found near the stone vase. One of them is ornamented
with pairs of plain concentric circles; another bears on
the inside of the bottom an eight-rayed star-pattern,
regarded as Mithraic; whilst a third has a band of
astragalus or reel-pattern and a panel showing a charioteer
driving a four-horse chariot. This cylinder enclosed a
fine two-handled glass vessel covered with a glass lid,
and containing the burnt bones.
Fig. 63, 7. Cooking-pot containing burnt bones; dark
brown ware burnt light red and black on exterior.
Smoothed lattice-pattern. This type with the short rim
is not likely to be later than c. 150. Most of the Balmuildy
(Antonine) types are of derivative form, and type 48 at
Newstead (also Antonine) is perhaps a little later than the
present example. At the Brecon Gaer it occurs in early
2nd-century associations (c. A.D. 100–140).
Fig. 63, 8. Urn containing burnt bones, with lid. Grey
ware with smoothed chevron and wave-patterns. The type
is akin to Richborough (1st Report) type 51, which is
"probably of early date," and belongs to the same class
as Richborough types 4 and 5, which are Claudian. It
occurs in the so-called "Upchurch" wares, which are not
well dated but seem to converge upon the period A.D.
40–100. Compare also Silchester type 171 (pre-Flavian).
Fig. 63, 9. Urn containing burnt bones, with lid. Dark
grey ware. Smoothed wave-pattern round shoulder. Of
the same class as No. 22; comparable with Richborough
(1st Report) type 42, which "may be mid 1st century"
and type 64, which is "probably 1st century." Compare
Silchester Pottery, Plate LXXVIII, 6, which belongs to a
group ascribed with probability to "just before the middle
of the 1st century."
Fig. 63, 10. Newgate Street. Glass vessel containing
burnt bones found in December, 1851. The type is not
well dated, but is probably not later than the beginning
of the 2nd century. It is not quite certain whether this
burial was found just within or just without the line
of the city-wall, but the former is more likely [British
(ii) Isolated Burials.—Eight or more burials have been found along the southern slopes of the two hills.
Five of these burials, including one by inhumation, lay to the E. of the Walbrook. Farther N., an incineration-burial was found in Lombard Street and another near the Bank of England, probably on the
E. bank of the Walbrook; whilst again to the N. an incineration-burial comes from Coleman Street, and
two others from the street called London Wall. Whether the last two were found just within or just
without the line of the Roman wall is uncertain, and they are therefore historically of little value. A
similar reservation applies to the glass vessel from Newgate Street and to the urn and two cists from
Broad Street; indeed one of the cists (from Winchester House) may not represent a burial at all. It
will be observed that only three inhumation-burials which can be claimed with probability as Roman
come under this heading. On the other hand, only one of the surviving urn-burials seems to be earlier
than the Flavian period.
Fig. 63, 11. Mark Lane. Beaker of reddish ware
containing burnt bones. Found on the site of No. 36
Mark Lane, 1866. For the type, compare Wroxeter (1912)
type 36, dated "80–110 or 120 A.D." See also Essex Arch.,
Soc. Trans., XVI (n.s.), 24 ff. [Guildhall Museum Cat.,
p. 90, No. 278].
St. Dunstan's Hill, Great Tower Street. In 1863,
under the old wall of the churchyard was found "a mass
of concrete and a cavity, which seemed to have been
moulded upon a wooden coffin, and contained some human
remains." The grave was covered with flanged roofing-tiles, and the concrete contained pounded brick [Journ.
Brit. Arch. Assoc., XX, 297, Pl. 19]. The form of burial
is very similar to those of the early archbishops at St.
Augustine's, Canterbury, and suggests the probability
of a Saxon date.
Fenchurch Street. A cylindrical lead canister with
contracted neck was found in Fenchurch Street, probably
towards the eastern end of the street, in 1833, and is now
in the British Museum [V. C. H., London, I, 11].
St. Michael's, Crooked Lane. In 1831, under the
southern boundary of St. Michael's churchyard, was found
a black thumb-pot, stated to be "sepulchral," and to have
been associated with "two shallow circular earthenware
pans, containing ashes and two coins of Vespasian"
[A. J. Kempe, Arch., XXIX, 191 and 199].
Fig. 63, 12. Lawrence Pountney Lane. Grey urn,
formerly containing burnt bones. Analogous to Richborough type 49, dated "1st or early 2nd century" and to
Wroxeter (1913) type 32, dated A.D. 90–120. [British
Museum, Roach Smith Coll.].
Cannon Street. In 1852, not far W. from the Walbrook, in what was then called New Cannon Street, at the
bottom of a deep trench was found a human skeleton lying
E. and W. accompanied by nails 2–7 in. long, having flat
heads and quadrangular shafts apparently indicating a
former coffin. The burial was possibly Roman [Journ.
Brit. Arch. Assoc., X, 190].
Lombard Street. A Roman urn containing ashes is
recorded to have been found in making a sewer in 1786
[Soc Antiq. MS. Min., XXI, 72].
Queen Street. At some unspecified point in this
street between Upper Thames Street and Watling Street
were found in 1842, "five cinerary urns of a very rude
style of art; in one of them the remains of human bones
adhered. ... Of the contents of the other four, when
first found by the workmen, I have no means of judging"
[Gent. Mag., 1843, I, 21].
Bow Lane. In the autumn of 1839, a skeleton identified
as that of an old man was discovered lying N. and S. in
the middle of Bow Lane, opposite to Robin Hood's Court
and at the corner of Little St. Thomas Apostle (now
absorbed in Cannon Street) in a grave " formed with large
drain-tiles placed edgeways." The depth is variously
given as 12 and 15 ft. "Firmly clenched between the
teeth of the skeleton was a 2nd brass coin, so much corroded
as to be quite illegible," according to one account, but
ascribed to Domitian in another [Kelsey, Description of
Sewers, 269 (cited in Arch., LX, 237); Gent. Mag., 1840,
I, 420; Arch., XXIX, 146; Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc.,
Fig. 63, 13. Bank Station. "Fragment of a large
amphora, the neck and handles of which had been removed
to form a cist or coffin for the interment; it contained a
wide-mouthed urn of grey ware, 5 in. high, and an olla of
Upchurch ware decorated with dots, 7½ in. high; fragments
of bones also were in the urns. Bank Station, Central
London Railway, 1897." The two vessels contained by
the amphora are: (i) Grey bowl analogous to Richborough
types 18 and 19, both Claudian, and to Silchester Pottery,
Pl. LXXXVIII, 8, similarly dated; and (ii) a "poppyhead" beaker of a long-lived type of 1st and 2nd-century
date [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 106, No. 17].
Fig. 64, 14. Coleman Street. Dark grey urn with
smoothed trellis-pattern; contains burnt bones. Said to
have had a cover when found. Probably first half of
2nd century [compare Wheeler, The Roman Fort near
Brecon, Fig. 96, C 25, dated c 100–120; Guildhall
Museum Cat., p. 84, No. 120].
Fig. 64, 15. London Wall. Dark grey urn decorated
with smoothed lattice-pattern and containing burnt bones.
The type suggests a date of c A.D. 120–180 [Guildhall
Fig. 64, 16. London Wall. Cylindrical pewter jar,
with lid, containing burnt bones [London Museum, A.
Fig. 64, 17. Broad Street. Dark grey beaker, one of
two containing burnt bones, found in 1872. [Guildhall
Museum Cat., p. 94, No. 385] The beaker is of the
"poppy-head" type, decorated with groups of raised dots.
A large number of these beakers is found at Richborough,
where "they appear to belong to the 2nd century, some
being not far removed from the year A.D. 100," but the
type also occurs plentifully with 1st-century wares from
the Kentish marshes [Richborough Report, I, p. 98].
Broad Street. A leaden cist containing a black beaker
of Castor or similar ware decorated with lozenge-pattern
and rosettes in yellow slip was found in Broad Street in
1872 [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc., XXVIII, 171; Guildhall
Museum Cat., p. 92, No. 330, and Pl. XLII, 14].
Broad Street. A small limestone cist of funerary type
found on the site of Winchester House, is now in the
London Museum. Whether it contained bonos is not
Fig. 64. Burial Urns, &c. (¼).
(B). Burials Without, but Close to the Town-Wall.
With the exception of a stretch of rather less than half-a-mile immediately W. of Moorfields, the Roman
town-wall is almost continuously surrounded by Roman cemeteries from the Tower northwards and
westwards to Ludgate. For convenience, however, it is possible to group the burials roughly into three
districts: (1) those from the Minories and the adjacent area to the E., formerly known as Goodman's Fields;
(2) those in the neighbourhood of Bishopsgate, extending from Moorfields on the W. to Spitalfields on
the E.; and (3) those in the neighbourhood of Newgate, from Smithfield on the N. to Farringdon
Street on the S. and from the direction of Cripplegate on the E. to Holborn on the W. Burials in Shadwell
and Stepney are possibly outliers of the Goodman's Fields cemetery, and others W. of the Fleet continue
the lines from Newgate and Ludgate, but all these will be included in Section C.
1. Aldgate, The Minories and Goodman's Fields.—The principal sites are Haydon Square and
vicinity, Mansell Street, and Great and Little Alie Streets, all of which come within the area formerly
known as Goodman's Fields, extending from the Minories to Church Lane, Whitechapel, and from Commercial Road to the River. Strype states "In Goodman's Fields without Aldgate was a Roman Burying
Place. For since the Buildings there about 1678, have been found there (in digging for foundations)
vast quantities of Urns and other Roman utensils. . . . Some of these Urns had ashes of bones in
them, and brass and silver money; and an unusual Urn of copper, curiously enamelled in colours, red,
blue and yellow" [Strype's Stow, II, Appendix, 23]. Gough also notes that "in the foundations of the
new church in Goodman's Fields among many parcels of bones were found urns" [Gough's Camden, II, 17].
More recent discoveries, noted below, show that the cemetery was in use from the 1st to the 4th century,
although not more than two or three of the surviving urns are earlier than the 2nd century. Upwards of
a dozen cremation-burials and of four inhumation-burials are individually recorded, whilst many others
of both classes are more vaguely indicated.
Fig. 64, 18. Aldgate. Urn containing burnt bones
found beneath a house in Aldgate nearly opposite the
Aldgate station of the Metropolitan Railway, 1902.
Grey ware, with smoothed lattice-pattern. 2nd century
[London Museum, A. 28531/1].
Minories. A rough sketch of a black Roman urn (of
uncertain date) containing bones is included amongst
notes from the Gardiner MSS. now in the possession of
Dr. Philip Norman. The sketch bears the note "East
side of Minories" and the urn was found during the
Aldgate extension of the Inner Circle Railway in 1882.
The same series includes a sketch of a "thumb-pot"
with the note "Blackwall Yard, Aldgate Extension, urn
Fig. 64, 19. Minories. Buff urn with lid containing
burnt bones. Found at the back of Holy Trinity Church.
Akin to Richborough type 28, dated "mid or late 1st
century" [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 84, No. 111].
Pl. 57, 58. Minories. In 1854 a sarcophagus, apparently
of Barnack rag, was found by workmen digging for the
foundations of warehouses for the L. and N.W. Railway
Company in Haydon Square between the Minories and
Mansell Street. The exact spot is described as "the
N.W. corner of Haydon Square, about 15 ft. from Sheppy
yard." The sarcophagus lay E. and W. at a depth of
15 ft. Various interments, without coffins and possibly
of Mediaeval date, lay above it. Its length is nearly 5 ft.,
its width about 2 ft., its height, including cover, 22 in.
The front and sides are ornamented, the back plain. A
central sunk medallion contains a youthful male head and
shoulders in low relief, and is flanked by a gadroon
ornament; the ends of the sarcophagus are each carved
with a basket of fruit. The stone lid, which was held in
position by rough iron clamps, is ridged and bears a
foliage-pattern on the face. Within the sarcophagus was
a leaden coffin containing the bones "of a boy of about
10 to 12 years of age, together with a quantity of lime,"
the head lay at the E. end. The lid of the coffin is
ornamented with scallop-shells and lines of astragalus.
The greater part of the group is now in the British Museum.
A coin of Valens found at the same time is sometimes
associated with the burial, but without reason [C. Roach
Smith, Coll. Antiq., III, 46 (plates); Brit. Mus. Guide to
Roman Britain, 101 (plate 00)].
Haydon Square. "On pulling down the remains of
the convent of St. Clare or Minoresses, in 1797, on the
S. or E. part of the present Haydon Square, ....
two complete urns, filled with bones, ashes, etc., were
taken up" [T. Allen, Hist. Lond., I, 29].
Mansell Street. In 1843, a small leaden coffin
containing the remains of a child was found; the coffin
was void of ornament save for a beading of astragalus
which ran round the bottom. In the immediate vicinity
and on the same level, were found skeletons, urns with
burnt bones, coloured glass beads and bracelets in bronze
and jet [C. Roach Smith, Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc, II,
299; Coll. Antiq., III, 55; Proc. Soc. Ant. (1st Ser.),
Fig. 64, 20. Mansell Street. Inhumation-burial, at
the head of which were found two small flanged cups of
imitation Samian ware, one red and the other now black.
Their form is that of Dragendorff 38, a Samian type
usually of Hadrian-Antonine date; but imitations, though
usually not quite of this fabric, lasted to the end of the
4th century [London Museum, A. 20581–2].
Fig. 64, 21. Mansell Street. Cylindrical lead canister
with lid containing burnt bones [London Museum, A.
Fig. 64, 22. Mansell Street. Small glass phial and
urn containing burnt bones. The phial has a quatre-foiled
lip. The urn is of grey ware and is ornamented with a
band of smooth lattice-pattern. It is of Hadrian-Antonine
type [cf. Curie, Newstead, Pl. XLVIII, 48; Wheeler,
Roman Fort near Brecon, Fig. 98, C. 42–3; London
Museum, A. 20352–3].
Fig. 65. Burial Urns, &c. (¼ except 261, 1/8).
Fig. 64, 23. Mansell Street. Inhumation-burial, at
the head of which was a small beaker of Castor ware, buff
clay with reddish-brown surface, and design painted in
thin white slip; closely similar to Richborough I, No. 96,
dated to the 4th century; cf. also May, Silchester Pottery,
Pl. LII, late 3rd and 4th century [London Museum,
A. 20579]. The present example is probably c. A.D. 300.
Fig. 64, 24. Mansell Street. Buff urn containing
burnt bones and found in the "middle of Mansell Street,
Whitechapel, 10 ft. deep, July, 1843." Bi-conical bowl
with flat reeded rim and girth-grooves; similar to
Richborough I, No. 11, dated "Claudian" [British Museum,
Roach Smith Coll.].
Fig. 64, 25. Mansell Street. Light buff jug with
screw-neck, from the "Roman cemetery, Mansell Street,
July, 1843." Compare Richborough I, No. 70, and
Silchester type 118, both probably late 1st or early
2nd century [British Museum, Roach Smith Coll.].
Fig. 65, 26. Great Alie Street. A burial-group found
here in 1904 consisted of (i) an amphora of coarse red ware
with neck and handles in position but separate from the
body to admit (ii) a dark grey urn (26, ii) containing
burnt bones and covered by (iii) a dark-grey dish. The
urn resembles Wroxeter (1913) type 60, dated "late
1st and early 2nd century," and the group is probably of
early 2nd century date [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 395,
Figs. 64 and 65, 27–8. Little Alie Street, Whitechapel. A group of four pots, two of which contain burnt
bones with a glass phial was found in August, 1913, at a
depth of about 15 ft. Just above them was a human skull,
but it is not clear that the skull had any connection with the
pottery. The group, now in the London Museum, consisted
of: (i) Grey urn (A. 11693) containing burnt bones;
cf. Richborough, 1st Report, No. 19, dated to the Claudian
period, and May, Silchester Pottery, Pl. LXXVIII, 8, and
p. 191, dated to the same period. In the urn was an
indeterminate fragment of an iron fibula. (ii) Grey urn
(A. 11694) containing burnt bones; cf. Richborough,
No. 26, dated mid 1st century, and Silchester Pottery,
Pl. LXXVIII, dated to the Claudian period. (iii) Grey
urn (A. 11696), empty, of type analogous to preceding,
(iv) Samian cup (A. 11697) of form 27. (v) Glass phial
(A. 11695). The whole group is probably of mid
2. Bishopsgate, Moorfields, Spitalfields.—The Roman road which issued from Bishopsgate was
flanked for considerable distances on both sides by cemeteries which were in use from the 1st probably to
the 4th century. The cremation-burials within the town-wall at Bishopsgate (above, p. 153) were presumably an early portion of the same large cemetery.
Bishopsgate. "On rebuilding Bishopsgate church
.... they found an arched vault 14 ft. deep with large
equilateral Roman bricks, and in it two skeletons perfect
.... Dr. Stukeley saw there in 1726 a Roman grave
made of great tiles or bricks 21 in. long which kept the
earth from the body." A small urn containing a little
thigh-bone was found under the street adjoining [Gough's
Camden, II, 17].
Bishopsgate Street. In the Guildhall Museum is a
coffin, probably Roman, of bastard Portland stone,
found in 1891 opposite Widegate Street and Artillery
Row, about the centre of the E. front of Liverpool Street
Station. Near by was found another coffin in 1875,
containing a skeleton, at a depth of 13 ft. below the
surface of Bishopsgate Street [V.C.H. London, I, 16 and
90; Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 106, No. 9].
Fig. 65, 29. Bishopsgate. Urn containing burnt bones.
Grey ware with smoothed lattice-pattern. An Antonine
type [cf. Curie, Newstead, Fig. 28; Miller, Balmuildy,
Pl. XLV; London Museum, A. 16131].
Fig. 65, 30. Bishopsgate. Urn containing burnt
bones. Grey-buff ware. Profile akin to Wroxeter, 1913,
No. 51, dated A.D. 90–120 [London Museum, A. 20259].
Fig. 65, 31. Bishopsgate. Urn containing burnt
bones. Light buff ware. Similar to urns from Rhenish
sites, where they are dated to the first half of the 1st
century A.D. [cf. May, Silchester Pottery, Pl. LXIX, 121,
and p. 149; London Museum, A. 16100].
Fig. 65, 32. Bishopsgate. Samian cup and three glass
vessels forming a burial-group found in 1873:
(i) Glass urn containing burnt bones.
(ii) Samian form 27, stamped BACCI.M. This cup
stood in the mouth of (i) as a lid.
(iii) Square glass bottle of characteristic 1st and early
2nd century type.
(iv) Glass urn containing burnt bones [Journ. Brit.
Arch. Assoc, XXX, 204; London Museum,
Spitalfields (between Bishopsgate and Bethnal
Green). Stow records that, on the E. side of St. Mary
Spittle churchyard, "lieth a large field, of olde time called
Lolesworth, now Spittle field, which about the year 1576,
was broken up for Clay to make Bricks, in the digging
whereof many earthen pots, called Vrnae, were found full
of ashes, and burnt bones of men, to wit, of the Romans
that inhabited here .... euerie of these pots had in
them with the Ashes of the dead, one peece of Copper
mony, with the inscription of the Emperour then raigning:
some of them were of Claudius, some of Vespasian, some
of Nero, of Anthonius Pius, of Traianus, and others. . . .
There hath also beene found in the same field divers coffins
of stone, containing the bones of men .... Moreover
there were also found the sculs and bones of men without
coffins, or rather whose coffins (being of great timber)
were consumed .... I there behelde the bones of a man
lying (as I noted) the heade North, the feete South, and
round about him, as thwart his head, along both his sides,
and thwart his feete, such nailes were found, wherefore I
coniectured them to be the nailes of his coffin, which had
beene a trough cut out of some great tree, and the same
covered with a planke, of great thicknesse, fastned with
such nayles, and therefore I caused some of the nayles to
be reached up to mee, and found under the broad heades
of them, the olde wood, skant turned into earth, but still
retaining both the graine, and proper colour" [Survey of
London (Ed. Kingsford), I, 168].
Castle Street. A stone coffin was found in 1884 in
connection with the bastion in this street [Ant., X, 134].
Fig. 66. Burial Urns (¼).
Fig. 66, 33. Liverpool Street. (i) Dark grey urn
containing burnt bones. Decorated with smoothed latticepattern. With the urn is the following note: "This urn
with another, with the greater part of the covers, and each
containing burnt bones, were found in an amphora of
globose form. The neck with the handles had been cut so
as to take in the urns; the neck had been replaced to
form a cover. Several urns with bones were found in the
same excavations. Liverpool Street, January 1872."
(See also J. E. Price, Proc. Soc. Ant. (2nd Scr.). VI, 170.)
The type of the present urn suggests a date of c. A.D.
150–250. (ii) Grey urn containing burnt bones; found
with above in amphora. For date compare No. 34. The
present vessel seems to be of somewhat earlier date than
that usually assigned to (i), but the two are presumably
contemporary [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 84, No. 112].
New Broad Street. Roach Smith illustrates the lead
and iron frame worth of a wooden coffin "bound with iron
bands, excavated many years since, opposite New Broad
Street. . . . It lay at a depth of 14 ft.; and as the foreman
of the works told me, in a bank to the left, or outside, of
the course of the old Houndsditch." The engraving shows
a human skull within one end of the coffin [Coll. Antiq.,
Fig. 66, 34–5 (i and ii). Blomfield Street, Moorfields.
When excavating in 1868 (or 1863) for the additions
to the Eye Infirmary in Blomfield Street, on the
E. bank of the Walbrook, "on the ground adjoining
the highway leading from Bishopsgate Street to Norton
Folgate and Spitalfields," a wooden cist, about 18 in.
square, was found, covered by an amphora reversed
and with the neck removed. The cist contained two
urns (one of them being surrounded by the fragments
of a wooden cask), and a glass jug with an earthenware
cover. All contained human bones [J. E. Price, Trans.
Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 492 (plate); Journ.
Roy. Arch. Inst., LX, 170; Guildhall Museum Cat.,
p. 40, No. 153; 83, No. 103; 84, No. 113]. One of the
urns, of reddish-buff ware (Fig. 34) is closely derived
from Richborough type 28, dated "mid or late 1st
century," and from Silchester Pottery, PI. LXXVIII, 6,
of c. A.D. 40–60; it probably dates from late in the 1st or
early in the 2nd century. The other earthenware vessel
(Fig. 35, ii), of buff ware, is comparable with Richborough
type 79, dated 1st and 2nd centuries. The glass jug
(Fig. 35) is of a type common on Roman sites dating from
c. A.D. 80–150. The whole group is probably of late
1st century date.
Fig. 66, 36. Moorfields. Buff urn of bi-conical form,
with reeded rim and three horizontal grooves. It contains
burnt bones with traces of a cloth wrapper, and the
following note: "Urn with child's bones which appear to
have been wrapped in some sort of linen (linum). Moorfield, Mr. Mayhew." The form is similar to Richborough
type 11, dated "Claudian" [Guildhall Museum Cat.,
p. 84, No. 113].
Fig. 66, 37. Finsbury Circus. Dark grey urn decorated
with smoothed lattice-pattern and containing burnt bones.
It was found on the site adjoining the London Institution
towards the E., and lay in the surface of the gravel at a
depth of about 11 ft. from the present surface. (See Arch.,
LXXI, 94.) This type is difficult to date; the fact that
the diameter of the shoulder is greater than that of the rim
suggests that the example is not later than the 3rd century,
and a period c. A.D. 150–250 is suggested [See Silchester
Pottery, pp. 155 ff., Guildhall Museum, M.A. 2566].
Finsbury Circus. A stone coffin, possibly Roman, was
found 13 ft. below the present surface between London
Wall and Finsbury Circus [Arch., LXVIII, 233].
Fig. 66, 38. Site of Moorgate Street Tube Station.
Grey urn containing burnt bones, found 30 ft. from the
surface in 1902. Grey ware. Similar to Wroxeter (1913)
type 60, dated late 1st or early 2nd century A.D. [British
Fig. 66, 39. West Street, Finsbury (near 24). Light
buff urn, with lid, containing burnt bones. Same class
as Richborough type 82, dated "1st century" and is
probably pre-Flavian. [British Museum].
Moorfields. In 1873, the oak coffin of a child was
found in Moorfields, but the exact spot is not recorded.
The coffin contained a cup of white ware, a jar of red ware,
three small bracelets of jet, a ring of gold wire, and a
well-preserved gold coin of Salonina, wife of Gallienus
(A.D. 253–268). The find is now in the British Museum
[Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc., XXXI, 209].
3. Newgate, Smithfield, Farringdon Street.—The Roman road from Newgate was flanked by a
considerable cemetery on its northern side (in the Smithfield area) and by some burials on the comparatively narrow strip of ground between the town-wall and the Fleet River to the S. The burials were
continued westward along Holborn and Oxford Street, but those W. of the Fleet are described separately
under Section C. (below p. 163). Few of the cinerary urns survive, but they indicate that the cemetery was
in use in the 1st century, and the series of inhumation-burials is presumably of 3rd or 4th century date.
Smithfield. J. E. Price notes that the result of the
excavations in connection with the erection of the Dead
Meat and Poultry Market was "a full corroboration of
opinions formerly expressed as to the locality having been
extensively used as a Roman cemetery" [Trans. Lond.
and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 195]. The same writer records
that about 1865, in the course of the excavations for the
Finsbury Extension of the Metropolitan Railway, in
"the N.W. corner of Smithfield, not far from West Street,
and near where the two inns, the Ram and the Rose, were
standing but a short time since," were found a skeleton
"enclosed in a coffin or cist, with a small black urn of
Upchurch ware placed at the crown of the skull. The
other objects, a patera, ampulla, mortarium, etc., such as
are usually found in Roman sepulchres, were near the
left-hand side of the cist. There was not sufficient of the
wood remaining to measure with accuracy the length of
the coffin, but it appeared to have been but little over 4 ft.
It was lying E. and W., slightly inclined to the N.E. The
body had been placed on small transverse pieces of wood
unworked, and of varying thickness; these had the
appearance of having been branches of trees cut up into
equal lengths. They were lying on the London clay, the
bones upon them; and pieces of timber had been placed
around to form the sides, head, and foot of the cist, much
in the same way as the tile tombs of the Romans were
constructed." A coin of Gratian was found at the same
time, but whether it was in any way associated with the
burial is not clear [Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc.,
Fig. 66, 40. Smithfield. Dark grey urn containing
burnt bones, found in 1865 near St. Bartholomew's
Hospital. Decorated with smoothed lattice-pattern. The
type seems to be that of c. A.D. 150–250 [See Silchester
Pottery, 155 ff.; Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 84, No. 122].
Fig. 67. Burial Urns (¼).
Fig. 66, 41. Smithfield. Grey urn containing burnt
bones. Decorated with smoothed lattice-pattern. Found
near St. Bartholomew's Hospital, in West Smithfield, 1865.
The type is Antonine, and may be ascribed to the period
c. A.D. 140–200 [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 84, No. 119].
Smithfield. In 1749, during the digging of a sewer in
West Smithfield near the end of Hosier Lane, a leaden
coffin about 4 ft. long, 21 in. broad, and 18 in. deep was
found at a fairly deep level in clayey gravel. It lay towards
the buildings behind St. Sepulchre's Church, but its
direction is not stated. Inside were some bones and skulls,
which suggest that, as in other cases, the coffin may have
been used for more than one body, but the discovery was
not well observed. The lid bore embossed scallop-shells.
Other bones were found in the vicinity [Soc Ant. MS.
Min., VI, 2; V.C.H. London, I, 19].
Smithfield. "At the corner of Clothfair an urn,
containing burnt bones, was discovered a few years back,
and similar relics have been brought to light in Giltspur
Street, in front of St. Sepulchre's Church. During the
formation of a new sewer in Cock Lane numerous bone
pins, mortaria, Samian ware and other objects, were found
in conjunction with human remains." Amongst these, at
a depth of 12 ft., was a coffin (probably of wood) containing
a skeleton with bronze armlets on the wrists [J. E. Price,
Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 37; Arch. Rev.,
Smithfield. A wooden cist "containing human bones
entire" was found a few years before 1870 in West
Smithfield [Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 495;
Proc Soc. Ant. (2nd series), VI, 172].
Smithfield. In 1877, during the excavations for the
Medical School of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, at the N.
end of Giltspur Street, two oolite coffins, each 6 ft. 8 in.
long and 2 ft. 4½ in. wide, were found close together, at a
depth of 11 ft., lying approximately E. and W. They had
massive stone lids. One enclosed a leaden coffin ornamented on the sides with cable-mouldings arranged in a
diamond pattern, and containing the body of a woman;
whilst the more northerly contained the bodies of a
man and a woman, the head of the former being at the
W. end and that of the latter at the E. end. Both coffins
are now on the staircase of the library of the hospital
[Arch. Journ., XXXIV, 197; Trans. Lond. and Midd.
Arch. Soc, V, 293].
Well Street, Jewin Street (near the Cripplegate
bastion). In 1846 were discovered sepulchral interments
from which "some urns, one containing burnt bones"
were exhibited [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc, II, 273].
These burials are presumably outliers of the same large
Christ's Hospital (now part of the General Post Office).
"In 1826, various sepulchral remains were discovered
in excavating the site of the New Hall of Christ's Hospital;
they consisted of burnt bones, vases, a few coins, and
broken pottery" [T. Allen, Hist, of Lond., I, 32].
Fig. 67, 42. Old Bailey. Urn, with lid, containing
burnt bones. Found in August, 1914. Lid of buff ware;
urn of grey ware ornamented with shallow vertical grooves.
The urn is a simplified form of an early or mid Ist-century
type, e.g., from a pit of that date at Silchester [May,
Silchester Pottery, PI. LXXVIII, 6 and p. 191]. It also
approaches Richborough, 1st Report, No. 26, dated mid
1st century, but is inferior in finish and perhaps later
[London Museum, A. 13696 and 13982].
Fig. 67, 43. Holborn Viaduct. Grey urn containing
burnt bones. Found in March, 1867. Similar to Silchester
Pottery, PI. LXXVIII, 5, found in a pit approximately of
Claudian date [Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 19, No. 299].
Seacoal Lane. A rag-stone coffin, possibly Roman,
and now in the Guildhall Museum, [Cat. p. 106, No. 8]
was found in 1873, near Seacoal Lane, which formerly
joined Snow Hill and Fleet Lane, running along the
left bank of the Fleet. It lay at a depth of 12 ft. from
the surface and is 7 ft. 9 in. long, 4 ft. 2½ in. wide,
and 3 ft. deep. It contained a skeleton surrounded
with lime. Near by were observed evidences of another
interment, with fragments of Roman pottery, etc. The
account, however, of the whole discovery is vague [J. E.
Price, Rom. Antiq. Nat. Safe Deposit, 52].
Newcastle Street. Near by, in Newcastle Street,
"vast quantities of human remains" were found at two
points in 1844, at depths of from 5 to 7 ft., but their date
is uncertain [Journ. Roy. Arch. Inst., I, 162].
(C). More Remote Burials Within the London District.
The dividing line between these and the cemeteries described in Section B. is often a somewhat artificial
one, but it is clearly desirable to distinguish outlying and in some cases isolated groups from the main
cemeteries beneath the town-walls. Historically the most important of these groups is, or should be,
that from the Southwark district, but before crossing the river, it is convenient to complete the survey
of those on the northern side.
1. Burials in the Shadwell and Stepney area are
perhaps a somewhat distant extension of the Goodman's
Fields cemetery (above, p. 157). At Shadwell in 1858,
an imperfect lead coffin was found 9 ft. below the surface
N. of Shadwell Basin and near the S.W. corner of St. Paul's
churchyard. The coffin lay E. and W., but the direction
of the head is not stated [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc.,
XIV, 357, where it is wrongly suggested that this coffin
was identical with that found in the 17th century in
Radcliffe Field (see below].
At Stepney, early in the 17th century, near the angle
of Love Lane and Cable Street, "within the parish of
Stepney in Middlesex, in Radcliffe field .... there was
found two monuments, the one of stone, wherein was the
bones of a man, the other a chest of lead, the upper part
being garnished with scallop-shells and a crotister border.
At the head of the coffin and the foot, there were two jars,
of a three-feet length, standing, and on the sides a number
of bottles of glistening red earth, some painted, and many
great vials of glass, some six, some eight square, having a
whitish liquour within them. Within the chest was the
body of a woman, as the chirugians judged by the skull.
On either side of her there were two sceptres of ivory,
18 in. long, and on her breast a little figure of Cupid, neatly
cut in white stone. It seemed (said Sir Robert Cotton
from whom I had this relation) these bodies were burned
(sic) about the yeare of our Lord 239, being there were
found divers coins of Pupienus, Gordian, and the
emperours of that time" [Weever, Funeral Monuments,
1631, p. 30]. It will be observed that the association of
the coins with the burials, though assumed, is not clearly
stated and is at least open to doubt.
2. A burial found in 1862 at Bethnal Green was
perhaps an outlier of the Spitalfields cemetery (above,
p. 159). In that year a leaden coffin which had evidently
been buried in a wooden casing was found at Camden
Gardens (replaced by Corfield Street) behind the police
station. The ends are decorated with astragalus-pattern
in saltire, and the coffin contained slaked lime. It is now
in the British Museum [Proc. Lond. and Midd. Arch.
Soc., 1860–3, 78].
3. At Old Ford and Bow, 1½ miles farther E., a number
of burials have been found in the vicinity of the Roman
road to Colchester. An amphora of buff ware, containing
burnt bones, is preserved in the British Museum from
Old Ford; its type is not well dated but is probably not
later than the beginning of the 2nd century (Fig. 67, 44).
Another burnt burial is contained in a grey urn of 1st
century type, now in the Guildhall Museum (Fig. 67, 45;
see Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 20, No. 313). Two other
burnt burials (noted below) come from this district, but
most of the known interments were by inhumation. In
1844, "about 150 yards S. of the old ford over the river at
Stratford-le-Bow," was found a leaden coffin containing
the remains of a skeleton imbedded in lime. The lid was
ornamented with an incised swastika near the centre.
In and about 1866 several other burials by cremation and
inhumation were found in the same area. A rectangular
stone coffin was discovered "in the vicinity of Old Ford,
near Bow, associated with pottery. Another of the same
character was excavated not long since .... near the
Saxon Road and Coborn Road, Bow, some 60 yards S. of the
Roman highway. The coffin lay upon the gravel beneath
some 30 in. of superincumbent soil. Its length is about
6 ft. 6 in., width 2 ft. 1 in., 2 in. less at the foot. The lid
is slightly ridged. In it were contained the bones of a
full-sized man .... which appeared to have been buried,
as the custom was, in lime. Its situation was E. and W.
and the arms of the skeleton were drawn down at the side
differing in this respect from that found some years ago
in the same locality [a rectangular stone coffin, see Trans.
Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., I, 192]. In the latter case
the arms of the skeleton were crossed on the breast ....
At a distance of some 2 ft. S. of the coffin a large collection
of [Roman] pottery was discovered." The plate shows
pottery of the 2nd or 3rd century. Two of the urns
"contained burnt bones." Subsequently two more
monolithic sarcophagi were found, some 200 yards S. of the
previous group [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc., II, 300;
Arch., XXXI, 308 (plate); Trans. Lond. and Midd.
Arch. Soc., I, 192, and III, 206 (plates); Coll. Antiq.,
III, 55; V.C.H. London, I, 21].
4. Farther E. again, an interesting group of inhumationburials was found in 1864 at East Ham. Workmen
excavating for ballast for sewers across the marshes to
Barking, came upon a Roman cemetery "about a quarter
of a mile westward of the church of East Ham, at the foot
of the upland just bordering upon the marshes .... The
workmen came first upon a massive stone sarcophagus,
quite plain, 6 ft. 9 in. in length by 2 ft. 1 in. wide, covered
by a heavy coped lid. It contained two skeletons placed
side by side, their heads at the opposite ends. A surgeon
pronounced them to be of adults in middle age. Three
leaden coffins were next found, lying like the sarcophagus,
north and south. . . . Near the coffins and in a line with
them were found two skeletons which had been enclosed
in coffins of wood; and about twenty urns, most of them
containing burnt bones. As Mr. King conjectures, the
excavations had touched the southern verge of an extensive
cemetery." The coffins (Pl. 58) are now in the British
Museum. One measures 4 ft. 10¼ in. by 11½ in. at the top
and 9 in. at the bottom; it is decorated with astragalus
and scallop-shell pattern. Another, only 2 ft. 4 in. in
length is decorated with the same motifs. The fragment
of the third shows concentric circles, lines of cable-moulding,
and two small masks [C. Roach Smith, Coll. Antiq., VII,
190 (plate); Journ. Roy. Arch. Inst., XXI, 94; Gent.
Mag. (N.S.), XV, 91; Trans. Essex. Arch. Soc., III, 104].
5. Towards the northern corner of the triangular
expanse of gravel on which London stands, a series of
burials has been found both at Upper and at Lower
Clapton. The sites lie nearly a mile to the E. of the Great
North Road, and in the absence of known structural
remains in the neighbourhood, the reason for their situation
is not apparent. "During some repairs at Temple Mills,
on the borders of Hackney Marsh, in the year 1783, an
urn was found full of Roman coins .... from Julius
Caesar to Constantine the Great, several medals, a stone
coffin (with the skeleton in it entire) measuring 9 ft. 7 in.
long, and an inscription on it unintelligible; it is added,
that in removing the old foundation a vault was discovered
in which were several urns, but very imperfect, and that
it is very remarkable the vaults for centuries past are
supposed to have been 16 ft. under water. In the year
1814, Mr. Bros, who was making some improvements in
his grounds in Springfield Lane, at Upper Clapton, a
short distance from the River Lea and the marsh,
discovered several stone coffins, and other relics of antiquity.
The first coffin was found in the N. side of the sloping line
which forms part of the pleasure-ground, 60 ft. above the
level of the marsh; the coffin was about 7 ft. long and 4 ft.
wide, of hewn stone, lying about 6 ft. under ground.
Near this, in the year 1837, another was found, and at
about the same depth; both coffins lying N. and S. The
latter one contained the remains of two human skeletons,
male and female .... A great quantity of human
bones were also found near the last coffin and some rude
pottery, most of which was broken by the workmen"
[Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 196; Gent.
Mag., LIII, 899].
The most important discovery in this district, however,
was a white marble sarcophagus (PI. 57), found in 1867
and now in the Guildhall Museum. It was unearthed "at
the rear of the London Orphan Asylum, Clapton, on the
brow of the hill passing down to the marshes and river
Lea, within a few feet of an old path just demolished which
ran from Homerton to Lea Bridge, via Brooksby's Walk,
in the direction from S. to N. and another way, for many
years past but a private road to a farm, running W. to E.,
viz. from Clapton Square, via Clapton Alley or Passage,
to the Lea river .... The coffin was found on the natural
gravel, 2 ft. 6 in. from the surface, lying due E. and W.,
the foot to the E..... It is about 6 ft. 3 in. long, 1 ft.
3 in. wide and 1 ft. 6 in. deep; the thickness being about
2½ in. . . . No vestige of a lid or covering has been found,
but at each end are evidence of clamp fastenings." It is
plain save on the front, which is fluted and has a central
bust on a pedestal bearing an inscription (see p. 173)
[Trans. Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 191 (plates and
map of the site); Journ. Roy. Arch. Inst., 1874, 352;
Guildhall Museum Cat., p. 106, Pl. LVI].
6. The Roman cemetery outside Newgate (above, p. 161)
straggled across the Fleet to Holborn Circus, Gray's
Inn Road and, presumably in scattered groups, considerably farther W. along the line of Oxford Street, as far as
In Holborn, a few years before 1842, "Roman remains
were met with at Holborn Hill at the depth of 18 ft. They
consisted of an earthen urn, filled with burnt bones, and a
large quantity of broken pottery, of a pale red kind,
enclosed in an oaken case, measuring 2 ft. 9 in. square"
[C Roach Smith, quoting R. Kelsey, Arch., XXIX, 146].
Again, shortly before June, 1833, during the laying of a
sewer opposite St. Andrew's Church, Holborn, "a square
enclosure of oak timber was found, in which were deposited
a number of Roman urns" [Gent. Mag., 1833, I, 549].
Another account states: "A Roman sepulchre, consisting
of a cubical coffer of 3-in. oak, 2 ft. 9 in. on every side, and
containing a few remains of human bones, with the rib bone
of some quadruped and a considerable quantity of pottery,
the greater part of which was broken, was met with in
1833 at a depth of 18 ft. embedded in the blue clay. Five
of the jars which were found unbroken were presented to
the City Library. The situation of it was opposite to
Messrs. Thompson and Fearson's gin shop, eastward of
Union Court" [R. Kelsey cited in Arch., LX, 238]. Near
by was found a Roman pavement (p. 147).
Farther W. on the site of the Birkbeck Bank, almost
opposite Gray's Inn Road, a "cinerary urn containing
bones" was found about 1905. It lay about 160 ft. S. of
the Holborn curbstone, just N.E. of the circular counter.
It is now in the British Museum. It is of dark grey ware
with smoothed lattice-pattern (Fig. 67, 46), and is probably
not later than the middle of the 2nd century [Trans.
Lond. and Midd. Arch. Soc. (N.S.), I, 258 (plan)].
Two cremation-burials come from Gray's Inn Road
itself. Fig. 67, 47, is an urn of grey ware (containing
burnt bones), with smoothed lattice-pattern. It is
an early example of its type, probably not later than
the middle of the 2nd century. Its globular form and
indented base connect it with 1st-century types such as
Richborough, 1st Report, Pls. XXI–XXII, but its rim is
that of 2nd century cooking-pots [London Museum, A.
11700]. Fig. 67, 48, found near the preceding is an urn of
buff ware (also containing burnt bones), with reeded rim
and two pairs of incised girth-lines. Closely similar to
Richborough No. 11, dated to the Claudian period. The
biconical form seems to be pre-Flavian [London Museum,
Farther W. again, in Southampton Row, has been
found another urn containing burnt bones (Fig. 67, 49).
It is of grey ware with 'rustication' in low relief. A
well-known late 1st-century type [cf. Wroxeter, 1913,
No. 50; London Museum, A. 1705].
A short distance farther W., on the S. side of New
Oxford Street, shortly before 1864, a cylindrical leaden
cist, containing burnt bones and two denarii of Vespasian
(wrongly ascribed to Severus) was found on the site of
Messrs. Watney, Combe, Reid and Co's former brewery,
near the N. end of Endell Street. It measured 8 in. in
height and 7½ in. in diameter [Proc. Soc. Ant. (2nd series),
Fig. 68, 50. Farther W., in the Quadrant Arcade,
Regent Street, a dark grey urn containing burnt bones,
with a buff bowl used as a cover, was found in the gravel
at a depth of 9 ft., and is now in the London Museum
[A. 27623]. The bead-rimmed urn is of early type; a
similar example was found at Silchester with pottery
dating "just before the middle of the 1st century"
[Silchester Pottery, Pl. LXXVIII, 8].
Over two miles farther W. again, at Notting Hill, an
inhumation-cemetery, probably of Roman date, was
discovered in 1841. In digging the foundations for new
buildings" in Victoria Park, near the Hippodrome, Notting
Hill, workmen found a monolithic coffin (said to be of
Purbeck) with rounded end, at a depth of 6 ft. from the
surface. It was 6 ft. 8 in. long and 2 ft. 3 in. broad, and
contained a skeleton in lime. It was placed N. and S., the
head lying to the N. Adjoining were found the remains of
wooden coffins containing bones, but quite rotten. Several
pins of bone or ivory were also discovered" [Trans. Lond.
and Midd. Arch. Soc., III, 209; Gent. Mag., 1841, II, 499].
7. The proximity of the Ludgate to the Fleet seems to
have prevented Roman burial immediately beneath its
walls, but a short distance W. of the river along the line of
Fleet Street a cremation-cemetery has been discovered
near the junction of Shoe Lane, and scattered burials
farther W. again at Trafalgar Square and perhaps
Westminster may conveniently be included in the same
The Shoe Lane cemetery, discovered in 1927, lay about
200 yards W. of Ludgate and a short distance within the
southern angle of the junction of the Lane with Fleet
Street. Eight cremation-burials are known from the site.
Fig. 68, 51. Shoe Lane. Grey urn containing burnt
bones. The bulbous form and heavy bead-like rim are
generally pre-Flavian characteristics, but the type is not
closely dated [London Museum, A. 28574].
Fig. 68, 52. Shoe Lane. Grey urn containing burnt
bones. Somewhat analogous to preceding; the rim
approaches that of early or mid 1st-century types [cf.
No. 31 above from Bishopsgate. London Museum,
Fig. 68, 53. Shoe Lane. Urn containing burnt bones.
Grey ware with band of smoothed lattice-pattern. The
spreading rim, projecting beyond the widest girth of the
body of the vessel, is usually a 4th-century characteristic.
Cremation-burials, however, are very rare after the first
half of the 3rd century [London Museum, 27.90/1].
Fig. 68, 54. Shoe Lane. Grey urn containing burnt
bones. A pre-Roman type which lasted well into the
3rd century A.D. The neck-mouldings of the present
example are unusually sharp and suggest a date not later
than the end of the 1st century [London Museum, 27.90/3].
Fig. 68, 55. Shoe Lane. Grey urn containing bones.
A 2nd-century type not closely dated [London Museum,
Fig. 68, 56. Shoe Lane. Dark grey urn, ornamented
with a band of lattice-pattern and containing bones. This
type, with widely overhanging rim, is usually ascribed to
the 4th century and not likely to be earlier than the middle
of the 3rd. Compare May, Silchester Pottery, 160 [London
Fig. 68, 57. Shoe Lane. Light grey urn containing
burnt bones. Akin to, but probably later than, Wroxeter
(1913) type 60, dated late 1st or early 2nd century. The
present example is more likely to be Antonine or later.
[London Museum, 27.90/6].
Fig. 68, 58. Shoe Lane. Light grey urn with three
smoothed bands, and containing burnt bones. This type
cannot be closely dated. [London Museum, 27.90/8].
Fig. 68, 59. Nearly a mile farther W., on the site of the
Charing Cross Hospital, a grey-buff urn with lid and
burnt bones has been found. It is similar to Richborough
type 42, which "may be mid 1st century," but the
present example is slimmer, probably of somewhat later
date [London Museum, A. 27217].
A short distance farther W., at St. Martin's-in-theFields. "Sir Hans Sloane had a glass vase shaped like a
bell found among ashes in a stone coffin taken up in digging
the foundation of the portico of this church, 14 ft. under
ground" [Gough's Camden, II, 17].
Farther W. in Cockspur Street, on the site of No. 1
("Mr. Rixon's house") an urn containing human bones
was found in 1820 [Soc. Antiq. MS. Min., XXXV, 348].
Fig. 68. Burial Urns (¼).
Westminster. In 1869 a sarcophagus (Pl. 57) of Oxfordshire oolite was found on the N. side of the Abbey
and is now preserved in the vestibule of the Chapter House.
It bears on the front an inscription (see p. 173) between
two Amazon shields. The lid has a large cross in relief
and is almost certainly an addition made when the coffin
was re-used, perhaps in Saxon times. In the absence of
other evidence, therefore, it is not certain that the coffin
represents a Roman burial in the immediate vicinity. It
may easily have been brought by water from a Roman
cemetery farther down the river. At the same time there
are evidences of Roman occupation at Westminster
8. Southwark. Many burials, both by cremation and
by inhumation have been found in the vicinity of the
approaches to London Bridge from the S. They seem to
have been most numerous in and adjoining the Old
Kent Road (with Tabard and Trinity Streets), Great
Dover Street, and Borough High Street, i.e., along
the line of the arterial road from Kent. An outlier to
the W. is represented by a cremation-burial from St.
In date the burials appear to extend from the 1st to the
3rd or 4th century, but unfortunately the records are, for
the most part, very vague, and relics which can with
certainty be identified with any of the discoveries are hard
to find. That we should know so little of the chronology
of the cemetery is peculiarly unhappy in view of the early
character of some of the miscellaneous "finds" from the
area and the potential significance of the material as a
whole in relation to the earliest phase of London.
Borough High Street. A vague account of discoveries
made during the construction of "the great sewer" in
1818 includes the following: "The first indication of a
cemetery occurred nearly opposite the Red Cross public
house, No. 200, in the Borough High Street, where was
found a quantity of bones, Roman utensils usually found
with the dead, cinerary and other urns .... and other
remains .... until the works had extended to 750 ft.
eastward in King Street; probably the extent of the
Cemetery." This account seems to indicate occupationdébris rather than a cemetery, but it goes on to state that
in King Street (during the same work), at "about 80 ft.
from the Borough entrance, it appears that a body had
been deposited, surrounded on all sides by Roman
remains." It proceeds also to describe, with illustrations,
four Roman glass vessels excavated (apparently during
the same work) "from a depth of 7 or 8 ft. in the carriage
way of Union Street," where "they were found with the
skeleton of a human body, which had been laid upon oak
planks, having narrow ledges on each side and at the
ends" [W. Taylor, Annals of St. Mary Overy, 1833,
11 ff.]. Another contemporary writer adds little to the
above, save to state that the excavation in question
"commenced near the Town Hall, and then proceeded
southward to Union Street, and northward to York
Street, at which point the sewer joins those already
constructed." He claims to have found a few fragments of
burnt bones in one vessel, but all the pottery was more
or less broken [Gent. Mag., 1833, I, 401]. A little farther
N., Brock's map marks the discovery of a "human skull
in Samian tazza."
Scarcely more satisfactory are the notices of supposed
burials found in 1897 "in the course of excavations in the
Borough High Street, Southwark, in a line running direct
west from St. George's Church to Gravel Lane, Blackfriars." The finds included "a fine cinerary urn, terracotta lamps, vases, a tear-bottle, and other relics. A fine
example of a Celtic bronze coin was found with these
remains, which bears on its obverse a representation in
relief of the head of a chief, and on its reverse the head of
a boar, with circular and half-circular symbols in
resemblance to what is known as ring-money. The coin
was found with other coins of Nero and Claudius" [Journ.
Brit. Arch. Assoc. (N.S.), IV, 95; Antiq., XXXIV, 71].
From the accounts, as it stands, it is not clear that the
remains actually included burials.
In or before 1825, "in digging for the erection of a
steam-engine at Messrs. Barclay and Perkins' Brewery [on
the W. side of Borough High Street], a human skeleton
was discovered, and between the legs was found a vessel
with several Roman coins, chiefly of the lower empire,
in it" [Gent. Mag., 1825, II, 633].
Fig. 69, 60. Tabard Street. Urn containing burnt
bones. Grey ware. Apparently a 2nd century type, but
without closely dated analogy; it seems to be the prototype
of Wroxeter, 1913, No. 60, dated 1st or early 2nd century
[London Museum, A. 21411].
In 1825–6 "in excavating the foundation of Trinity
Church, Newington, a human skeleton, vase, and sepulchral
remains were found" [T. Allen, Hist. of Lond., I, 37].
Trinity Street. Inhumation-burial. In the London
Museum (A. 11032–4) are preserved a plain double
finger-ring of iron, and two plain shale bracelets on the
bones of a human forearm.
Old Kent Road. "Corroborative of the extent of
the city on the Surrey side of the Thames, may be mentioned
the burial ground in the Kent Road on which the Dissenters'
chapel stands, when the deposits of urns containing burnt
bones and coins have been so frequently and in such
numbers discovered, as to leave no doubt of the coeval
populousness of the neighbourhood. ... To the present
day scarcely does an interment take place in the modern
burying place without revealing a portion of the unexhausted remains of the Roman cemetery" (C. Roach
Smith, Arch., XXIX, 149].
The chapel and burying-ground lay in Deverell Street,
Dover Road. Kempe adds, in 1835, that "upwards of
twenty urns have been discovered, in most of which a
quantity of calcined human bones have been found. . . .
These vases are found about 6 ft. below the present level
of the ground. . . . They have been deposited just below
the stratum of natural loam which is immediately above
the alluvial gravel bed, of which the substratum in this
neighbourhood is composed" [A. J. Kempe, Arch.,
Previously, in 1811, labourers opened the ground "near
the Asylum for the Deaf and Dumb, Kent Road, in order
to lay down some wooden pipes had found a leaden coffin;
the lid was bordered and divided into five compartments,
by the bead and fillet [astragalus] ornament. In the upper
compartment were two figures of Minerva; the three
intermediate ones were diagonally crossed by the same
ornament, and the lower compartment contained two
escallop shells. The whole appeared to have been cast in a
mould" [Arch., XVII, 333 (plate); Coll. Antiq., III, 54].
Fig. 69, 61. Old Kent Road. Grey urn containing
burnt bones, "found in a Roman burial place near Old
Kent Road, 1838." Of the same class as Richborough,
1st Report, type 64, dated "probably 1st century," type
47 which "may be mid 1st century." Compare also
Silchester Pottery, PI. LXXVIII, 5, probably mid 1st
century. The general appearance of the type may be
described as not later than Flavian. [British Museum].
Fig. 69, 62. Old Kent Road. Dark grey urn containing,
burnt bones "found in a Roman burial place near the
Old Kent Road, 1838." Round the middle is an incomplete
zone of smoothed wave-pattern. Compare Silchester
Pottery, PI. LXXIX, 12, 13, found with mid 1st century
pottery [British Museum].
Old Kent Road. A burial found at the Dun Cow in
or about 1917 is not recorded in detail [Arch., LXVIII,
Fig. 69. Burial Urns (¼).
Grove Street (probably The Grove, now part of
Ewer Street). In 1864, a Mr. Gunston announced to the
British Archæological Association "that on May 1 there
were discovered, in digging a trench at the corner of
Grove Street, Southwark, two skeletons; and between
them the remains of an earthen olla which had been filled
with small brass coins, 554 of which he had secured;
which consisted entirely of rude imitations of the imperial
money of the second half of the 3rd century, some bearing
the busts and names of Victorinus, Tetricus I and II, and
Claudius Gothicus" [Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc, XX, 339].
St. George's Fields. Dean Gale possessed "a large
urn filled with bones," which had been purchased from
men digging in St. George's Fields. [T. Allen, Hist, of
Lond. (1837), I, 36].
Southwark (site not stated). In the London Museum
are three shale bracelets from inhumation-burials.
Fig. 69, 63. Southwark (site not stated). Glass urn
with lid, containing burnt bones [London Museum, A.
9. Other Roman burials S. of the Thames lie towards
the fringe of the London districts.
At Battersea, in 1794, a passer-by saw some labourers
dig up four skeletons from a depth of 2 ft. One of the
skeletons was buried with lime in a leaden coffin (Pl. 57),
and a sketch of the lid shows that it was ornamented with
the characteristic Roman cable-mouldings and scallop-shells
[Journ. Brit. Arch. Assoc, II, 300].
Fig. 69, 64. At Wandsworth, on St. Anne's Hill, a
dark grey urn with smoothed trellis pattern containing
burnt bones has been found; it is now in the London
Museum (A. 20902). The relatively wide diameter of the
girth and the marked convexity of the outline suggest a
date not later than the middle of the 2nd century.
Fig. 69, 65. At Woolwich, in an excavation in 1841 at
the Arsenal, a grey vessel containing burnt bones has been
found and is now in the British Museum. The general
type of the vessel was long-lived, but the wide girth and
sharp mouldings of the present example suggest a
1st-century date. With it were found 15 other pottery
vessels. In 1851 or 1853 three or more vessels were found
in the same area, some of which contained bones or ashes
[Illus. Lond. News. Apr. 9th, 1853, illustration]. In
1856 the same area yielded three or four vessels, now in
the possession of Mr. F. C. Elliston Erwood. They are
reported to have contained bones [W. T. Vincent. Warlike Woolwich, 65, illustration].
Fig. 69, 66. At Blackheath "some specimens of Roman
pottery" were discovered in the Earl of Dartmouth's
kitchen-garden, in 1802. "They were found at the depth
of about 2 ft. below the present surface of the garden,
and a few inches only below the surface of the gravel,
and consequently the original surface of the ground in
which they were discovered. There were found in the
larger urns fragments of bones which had been submitted
to the action of fire" [Arch., XV, 392 (plate)]. The urns
were given to the British Museum, and of the two here
illustrated the taller still contains burnt bones. It is of
grey ware and represents a long-lived type which is
difficult to date; the cordon-mouldings round the shoulder
suggest, however, a period not later than the beginning of
the 2nd century. The other, which does not now contain
bones, is a 1st-century type; compare Silchester Pottery,
type 171, which is probably pre-Flavian, and Richborough
type 27, dated mid 1st century.
At Plumstead, in 1887, a lead coffin containing a
skeleton was found in Wickham Lane, together with two
pottery vessels. A second inhumation burial was found
immediately adjacent, together with two broken pots.
The coffin is now in the Maidstone Museum and the pottery
is in the possession of Mr. F. C. Elliston Erwood [Proc.
Soc Ants., XI, 308; XII, 6; XIII, 245; Arch. Cant.,
XVII, 10]. Burials, including an urn containing bones,
have been found from time to time, on Plumstead Marshes
[Arch. Cant., XVIII, 309–13; Arch. Journ., XVIII, 269].
At Eltham, in 1913, two burial-urns, with a bottle
and a bowl, were found at the junction of Glenesk and
Bexley Roads. The urns were of c. 160 A.D.