Uncovering Roman London


In 1968 Billingsgate Roman House and Baths were excavated, uncovering what we see today.

After the Second World War, the City of London went through a process of rebuilding. It was decided that Lower Thames Street needed to be widened to cope with increased car traffic and the Coal Exchange that had been built in the 1840s was demolished to make way for this new road. When the Coal Exchange was built the remains of half a Roman bath house was discovered, excavated and put on public display. As the coal exchange was being taken down, more of the site was uncovered.

The Guildhall archaeologist, Peter Marsden, directed a team of volunteers to excavate the site. It was named after Billingsgate Market, the old fish market that was just opposite on the bank of the River Thames. The team discovered that the site was not just a simple bathhouse, but that it was attached to a larger private residence that stood on the Roman waterfront.

The decision was made to preserve the Roman remains in the basement of the new building, so the spirit of the first city of London still survives in the modern one.

Watch this news clip of the excavation from the time © British Movietone.