The Roman Grave Under The Gherkin

In 1995, archeological investigations by MOLA (Museum of London Archeology) under what’s now the Gherkin revealed the body of a young Roman, dating from between 350-400 AD and aged 13-17.

 

But the key to this story, is that she was placed back in her final resting place.

 

Roman Grave Under Gherkin

A plaque on the floor by the base of the Gherkin decorated with a Roman laurel wreath

 

It was surprise that she was discovered in The City because Spitalfields was the official cemetery of Londinium, born from a tradition that no-one was buried within the Roman City walls.

 

 

In April 2007 – after Museum of London were happy with their tests and findings – a service was held in St Botolph’s Church, Aldgate followed by a procession to the burial site in Bury Street EC3.

Roman Grave Under Gherkin

Picture from Fosters + Partners

 

Today you can see the plaques and inscribed marble at the base of London’s iconic skyscraper;

Roman Grave Under Gherkin

 

The Spitalfields Lady

 

The discovery of a Roman body was by no means unique…
Only four years after the St Mary Axe discovery, a 1999 excavation in Spitalfields found a very rare limestone sarcophagus containing a lead coffin with the skeleton. She became known as The Spitalfields Lady.

 

Roman Grave Under Gherkin

The coffin on display in the Museum of London

 

The scallop shell design on the coffin, coupled with expensive grave goods inside meant this Roman Lady, aged around 20, was high statues and probably had a pagan belief in the underworld.

 

Roman Grave Under Gherkin

 

Caroline Wilkinson at the Museum of London worked on reconstructing the women’s head from her skull, and matching her look to the Western Mediterranean DNA found in her teeth. She’s also shown with her hair fashioned at its – 4th Century style – best.

 

You can still see both the coffin and reconstruction at the Museum of London.

Find out more here.

 

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