Crossrail: an archaeologist’s dream
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have had something of a bonanza with the creation of Crossrail, the massive engineering project to build a new 73-mile railway line from Reading to east London, as it has allowed them to study previously inaccessible areas of the capital.
More than 10,000 objects have been uncovered since work on Europe’s biggest infrastructure project began in 2009, in areas such as Canary Wharf, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Acton. New insights have been gained on London in its days as a Roman port and on the Great Plague and the Great Fire.
‘Tunnel: The Archaeology of Crossrail’, an exhibition at the Museum of London Docklands (February 10 to September 3; www.museum oflondon.org.uk/museum-london-docklands), will display items spanning 8,000 years of human history. Standout exhibits include iron Roman horse shoes found near Liverpool Street station, a wooden Tudor bowling ball unearthed from the site of a former manor house at Stepney Green and skeletons from a mass grave at Bedlam. DNA testing has shown one of them was a victim of the plague.
The exhibition also outlines the story behind the creation of Crossrail itself. Visitors will doubtless withhold their verdict on whether the chaos and destruction that have come in its wake have been worthwhile until the first services on the Elizabeth Line begin to run next year. Jack Watkins
One of the skeletons found at Bedlam was a victim of the plague