The heritage board about the history and archaeology of Queenhithe

Recently I went for a walk along the Thames to the significant archaeological site of Queenhithe. Later that day, I saw finds from the site in the Museum of London, and I have had the privilege of editing the two-part report on the excavations at Queenhithe for the Archaeological Journal volume 172.

Commemorating the mosaic

Getting to see the site and its heritage board was a treat, but so was seeing the 2013-14 Queenhithe mosaic. You are find out more abou the mosaic here.

The start of the mosaic – Caesar’s invasion, London bridge cuts across

The mosaic is an ‘archaeological’ medium – alluding to the Roman city – and a range of archaeologically accurate aspects of London’s history, highlighting its historic events, personages, architectures, vehicles, material culture, plants, fish, birds and land animals.

Viking Raids – detail of the mosaic with artefacts from the foreshore above
Roman London through iconic artefacts and a city plan

In addition, there are broadly accurate artefacts from coins to brooches – as well as archaeological inspired ornamental designs, incorporated into the mosaic.

The end of Rome depicted, includingn ‘Saxons start to raid and settle’ – the Anglo-Saxon origin myth alive and well

In this way, the timeline charts the flow of the river through time from the late Iron Age to the 2012 Queen’s Jubilee celebrations.

The origins of the middle Anglo-Saxon wic and ecclesiastical site. St Pauls built in stone in the 7th century?

The format of a vertical timeline of course takes its inspiration from the Bayeux Tapestry, although it is widely deployed in a wide range of 20th-/21st-century murals.

A further striking archaeological theme is that archaeology was incorporated into the mosaic. Archaeologist Mike Webber led volunteers to retrieve finds of Roman, medieval and modern date from the foreshore and select finds were embedded into the mosaic: archaeology becomes art.

Middle Anglo-Saxon London

In a recent post about Brexit, I highlighted how migration and invasion, conflict and crisis are written into the story of London, but equally we need to be wary of visual soundbiting complex historical processes in fear of them being appropriated by extremists views. This concern aside, I thought this was a fascinating, funny and striking story of London’s past in a mosaic timeline. Artefacts and place are manifest in the mosaic’s design and materiality.

Late Anglo-Saxon London – coins and artefacts
The Norman Conquest and fish traps – linking ‘events’ and lifeways
Into the later Middle Ages
Medieval London develops
Violence and plague
Time flows on into the early modern age
Shakey, fire and coffee
Churches and lighter
Trade and the waterfront at the hythe
Sewers and the Blitz
To the present – the 2012 jubilee and the mosaic. A seal waves and wind turbines spin
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