Rebecca Haslam and Victoria Ridgeway
The British Museum Press, £40.00
The British Museum is home to archaeological riches from all over the world, but what can its own archaeology tell us about Bloomsbury through the ages? Investigations carried out by Pre-Construct Archaeology in the 1990s and 2000s in advance of the Great Court and the World Conservation and Exhibition Centre developments have resulted in this detailed study – the first published archaeology of a major European museum.
Now seen as an intellectual hub, Bloomsbury remained rural for many centuries, until the Civil War when London’s defences – the Lines of Communication – were built crossing through the site. Though the Lines of Communication covered some 11 miles, they left few physical traces elsewhere. In the early 18th century, some of the land was still used for agriculture, and a substantial number of cow skeletons reveals that a farm was likely to have been hit by the contagious rinderpest virus. As well as finds like these, the birth and growth of the museum up to the present day is well told and well illustrated with plans of different phases of construction.
This review was published in CA 331.