What happened to London after the end of Roman rule? Bede calls it a ‘mart of many nations’ yet for long the archaeologists could find no trace of this early Saxon London. Then, suddenly, they found it. Not where they expected it, in the ruins of Roman London, but on an entirely new site a mile or so to the west, underlying what is today the West End and the Aldwych – a name which itself may refer to the “Ald wych” or “old town”.
The Royal Opera House
The biggest excavation yet in ‘Lundenwic’ has been on the site of the extension to the Royal Opera House (which is situated behind the camera).
Under the awning a large area of the Saxon town was uncovered.
The King’s Highway
Running through the excavated area was a solid road, made of gravel a metre thick. This was very different to the side roads which were very shallow, and it is probable that this was the ‘King’s Highway’, built and maintained at public expense. On either side were flimsy houses of wattle and daub.
Saxon London was already a major manufacturing town. Left are some loomweights, used to weigh down the bottom of the web. On the right are some bone pins – again used in the manufacture of cloth.
This is based on a fuller account in Current Archaeology 158