See a Chunk of the Roman Wall under Vine Street
If there’s one certainty in the City of London, it’s change. Historic fires and bombs coupled with modern development means the Square Mile is in a constant state of flux. But often this means that older history is revealed anew, like this chunk of Roman Wall on Vine Street.
London’s Roman Wall
The wall encircling Londinium was built around 200 AD by the Romans. Large parts of it are still visible today, famously outside Tower Hill Station but more evocatively in this car park and this pretty sunken garden.
But not all sections are publicly accessible and this chunk under Vine Street was once buried beneath two adjoining office buildings; Emperor House and – fittingly – Roman Wall House.
35 Vine Street
Both Emperor House and Roman Wall House were demolished around 2018 when constructed started on a new office building for Urbanest.
You can see the progress in stages from Google Street View below;
The £85million building from Balfour Beatty is a 654-bed student accommodation but most interesting for us is the mixed-use two-level basement with the exposed Roman wall and bastion.
The end result will supposedly be open to the public along with a cafe and displays of objects from the original 1970s excavation. However, I haven’t seen an official opening date yet.
But for now, from street level you can still get a good view inside the space and down onto the section of roman wall.
The base of the wall as seen today marks Roman London’s street level. The Roman sections of the wall then go to about halfway up while the upper sections are 18th century additions.
Originally there would’ve been crenellated walls and a turret. However these were largely demolished by the 13th century.
Outside on Crutched Friars is an information panel which gives you an indication of what it would’ve looked like and a map of how the Roman wall encircled the City.
The other element you can see is a huge piece of artwork by Olivia Whitworth, the East London-based artist who creates wonderfully detailed illustrations.
This piece is known as the ‘Wall of Antiquities’ and tells the story of an archaeological dig down through London’s layers of history. So from modern objects (can you spot Henry the Hoover?!) we go all the way down to Roman artefacts.
The Saddler’s Company Link
Always on the look out (and up!) for hidden details, I spied the coat of arms of the Saddlers’s Company affixed to the new office facade.
If you’ve been on my City: Power and Sacrifice walk you’ll be familiar with these little symbols and the fact they denote property ownership.
Sure enough the Saddlers’ website confirmed that in 1556 one Robert Kitchin, a Warden, bequeathed his property on Crutched Friars (the site of Roman Wall House) to the Company.
So I’ll keep this post updated when it does open to the public, but for now I wait in eager anticipation!vel of damage) online here.
Visit Roman London
There’s actually a surprising amount of Roman London that you can see in the City, from pavements in crypts like in St Bride’s Fleet Street to the full on immersive experience of the Temple of Mithras under Bloomberg’s HQ.
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