23rd December 2011:
Almost 2,000 years of history has been unearthed by Network Rail engineers following the discovery of Roman bath house ruins on land being re-developed as part of the £5.5bn congestion-busting Thameslink programme. The ruins, which are believed to be one of the biggest Roman finds in London on the south side of the River Thames, have been uncovered on the corner of London Bridge Street and Borough High Street. The site has been earmarked for the construction of a new office block.
Network Rail has commissioned a team of specialist archaeologists from Oxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology to excavate the site. Although work is at an early stage, the bath house appears to include a range of rooms including a cold plunge bath as well as hot rooms warmed by under floor heating. Elsewhere on the site, substantial walls are thought to belong to predecessors of St Thomas’ hospital, which used to stand on the site.
Chris Place, an archaeologist for Network Rail, said: “This is a significant find and offers a further insight into London’s long history. In Roman times the main settlement was on the north bank of the River Thames and was connected to the settlement at Southwark by the first London Bridge. Much archaeological work has been done in Southwark over the years, but we were still surprised to discover ruin of this nature and size.”
Network Rail, in agreement with the London Borough of Southwark, is exploring ways of preserving the remains beneath the new building to be constructed on the site. Where appropriate, key finds will be deposited with the Museum of London where they will be available for study by the public.