Stay up-to-date with the latest news and announcements from CoLAT.

New essay prize - £1,000
Ann Saunders Prize for 2023

The London Topographical Society is funding a new prize in honour of the late Dr Ann Saunders (1930-2019). Ann was an enthusiastic and distinguished historian of London and for thirty-five years the Society’s Honorary Editor. In that capacity she helped many scholars to achieve publication of their work.

A prize of £1,000 will be offered annually for an original and unpublished research essay on the topography, development or buildings of London in any period.

Submissions for the prize should be made by 1 April 2023. They must be no more than 8,000 words (including endnotes) and should include an additional abstract or summary of about 200 words. They will be considered for publication by the Society in the London Topographical Record, at the discretion of the Society’s Honorary Editor. See the Society’s website for further details of how and where to submit. The prize winner will be notified in time to attend the Annual General Meeting of the Society to be held in London in the summer of 2023.

Roman and medieval City walks leaflets online

CoLAT has been working with the Corporation of London to produce two free leaflets describing walks in the City, one highlighting Roman features and the other the medieval City of London. Roads to Rome was written by John Schofield; The Medieval City by Caroline Barron, both members of CoLAT. These leaflets are available at the City of London Information Centre in St Paul's Churchyard and at City libraries. The texts of these illustrated leaflets can be found on our Historic Walks page.

Coming on this website: links to major new documents and court decisions concerning the archaeology of London and its region

CoLAT will be creating a new page on its website to provide links with online publication of documents which all archaeologists in London and those interested in London’s archaeology should read, because they will have serious consequences for the management of London’s archaeology in the future. These documents could be government or Historic England policy statements, or judgements in public enquiries.

As we collect examples, here is the first one, the Decision Letter and Inspector’s Report for the proposal to construct a Holocaust Memorial in the Victoria Tower Gardens, Millbank, Westminster.

The Inspector recommended in favour of the scheme, and this was accepted by the Secretary of State. However, in November 2021 a High Court judge granted permission for an appeal against the decision by The London Parks and Gardens Trust.

CoLAT grants 2021

The management committee of the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) met on 8 December 2021 and made the following grants:

  1. £7728 to Jessica Bryan of MOLA for research on Baking in Roman London.
  2. £9751.50 to Charlotte Burn and Nigel Jeffires of MOLA for a project The digitisation of London mortaria stamps.
  3. £2827 to Gustav Milne for publication of work on The Long Jetty at the Greenwich Tudor Palace.

The total funded this year is £20,306.50. These grants are available for one year from 1 April 2022, though CoLAT will be sympathetic to any changes necessary because of the Covid pandemic.

See and hear St Paul's Cathedral in 1624

An aerial view of St Paul's in 1624 (Virtual St Paul's Project)

An aerial view of St Paul's in 1624 (Virtual St Paul's Project)

A project to reconstruct the sounds and echoes of services in St Paul's Cathedral, in the time of its Dean John Donne in the 1620s, is coming to fruition. Professor John Wall of North Carolina State University has engaged experts from the USA and Britain to recreate the true tones of speech in services given at the cathedral in Easter 1624 and Advent 1625.

There is a growing interest in what ancient or historic buildings sounded like, and in the case of the medieval cathedral we can reconstruct it on computer. John Schofield, the Cathedral Archaeologist, has advised the project on its historical accuracy. The project website is now being developed, but you can already hear the services from several places around the medieval cathedral; the sounds are arranged by engineers who have constructed their own model of the building. To hear them, go to the Cathedral Project website, then click on the TAB heading "SERVICES" which should show you a list of the services for Easter 1624 and Advent 1625. Click on your choice, which should open a new page where you have the opportunity to hear the service you have chosen from any of five listening positions in the Choir. John Wall has previously accomplished a separate project which paved the way for this one, a similar reconstruction of the topography and sounds of Paul's Cross, the famous outdoor pulpit north of the cathedral: the Virtual Paul's Cross Project.

CoLAT grants 2020

The management committee of the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) met by means of emails on 7 December 2020 and made the following grants:

  1. £3714.80 to City of London Archaeological Society for ‘Measure for Measure: community-based survey of causeways, river stairs and ferry terminals on the Thames’
  2. £4508 to M Copps of MOLA/TDP for the ‘TDP Archive Digitisation Project: Cannon Street foreshore’
  3. £1450 to London & Middlesex Archaeological Society towards publication costs of report on excavations at Syon Abbey Brentford by Robert Cowie

The total granted was £11,352. These grants are available for one year from 1 April 2021, though CoLAT will be sympathetic to any changes necessary because of the Covid pandemic.

Proposed Holocaust Memorial at Victoria Tower Gardens

Victora Tower Gardens cover

Victora Tower Gardens cover

In October and November 2019 a Public Enquiry was held, on-line, into a controversial proposal to build a national Holocaust Memorial in the open space, a small park, south of the Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The Inspector’s report, and after that the decision of the Secretary of State, is now awaited.

One of the experts criticising the scheme was Dorian Gerhold, who has produced this archaeological and historical assessment of the site. It is available from the author at 19 Montserrat Road, London SW15 2ED, price £12 including postage ( A brief review of it by John Schofield appeared in the Newsletter of the London & Middlesex Archaeological Society for January 2021.

A strategy for researching the historic environment of Greater London

The Research Strategy for understanding the historic environment of Greater London, produced jointly by the Museum of London and English Heritage (now Historic England) was published in 2015. It is now available here on the CoLAT website.

The City of London’s Draft City Plan 2036

The Corporation of London published a draft Local Plan, called City Plan 2036, and consulted on it between 12 November 2018 and 28 February 2019. The Secretary sent in one comment on behalf of CoLAT, suggesting that the time was appropriate now for a three-dimensional survey of archaeological deposits beneath the whole City. The Corporation produced a 423-page summary of the Consultation Comments at the end of August 2019: then the revised Local Plan 2036 text in May 2020.

The Proposed Plan was revised and put out for consultation again on 26 March 2021. You can download it from Draft City Plan 2036; and respond if you wish.

CoLAT grants 2019

The management committee of the city of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) met on 2 December 2019 and made the following grants:

  1. £541.80 to Niall Finneran for travel expenses in connection with his project ‘Towards and archaeology of death and memory in the old Jewish East End of London’
  2. £980 to Rebecca Gordon for post-excavation assessment of the animal bones in the project ‘London’s Waterfront 1666 to 1750’
  3. £16,695 to John Schofield for post-excavation assessment of pottery, non-ceramic artefacts and cowrie shells in the project ‘London’s Waterfront 1666 to 1750’
  4. £1000 to John Schofield on behalf of Peter Marsden to make archive images from the 35mm slides of excavations in the City in 1957–73 by Peter Marsden.

The total granted is £19,216.80. These grants are available for one year from 1 April 2020.

Manufactured Bodies published

Manufactured Bodies: The Impact of Industrialisation on London Health, by Gaynor Western and Jelena Bekvalac, was published by Oxbow Books on 18 December 2019. It is the report from their project studying early modern human remains which was funded by the Rosemary Green grant awarded in 2014.

The Industrial Period was a key period in human history where substantial change occurred to the population’s lifestyles, in terms of occupations, housing and diet as well as leisurely past-times, all of which would have impacted on their health. London had become the most densely populated metropolis in the world, the beating heart of trade and consumerism, an unambiguous example of the urban experience in the Industrial age. Using up-to-date medical imaging technologies in addition to osteoarchaeological examination of human skeletal remains, we have been able to establish the presence of modern-day diseases in individuals living in the past, both before and during Industrialisation, to compare to rates in UK populations today. By re-examining the skeletal evidence, this book traces how the perils of unregulated rural and urban lives, changing food consumption, transport, technologies as well as improving medical treatment and life expectancy, have all altered health patterns over time.

London’s Waterfront 1100–1666: downloads and critical reception

The large monograph London’s Waterfront 1100–1666 by John Schofield, Lyn Blackmore, and Jacqui Pearce with Tony Dyson, was published by Archaeopress in April 2018. The short run of hardback copies is now out of print, and Archaeopress are preparing a paperback edition. The text was also made available as a free PDF download from the Archaeopress and CoLAT websites (where it still is!).

In the 19 months after publication there were over 900 downloads of the text to interested people all over the world. For reviews of the work in archaeological journals, see review by Brian Ayers in Transactions London & Middlesex Archaeol Soc 69 (2018), 312–14.

CoLAT grants 2018

The Management Committee of the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) met on 3 December 2018 and awarded the following grants:

£1610 to Michael Marshall of MOLA for ‘Relighting Roman London’s lamps.’ The applicant writes: We aim to undertake a short programme of experimental archaeology, burning replica Roman oil lamps in order to better understand their function and to contextualise patterns recently observed in archaeological lamp data from London.We will build upon previous experimental designs and approaches to test different lamp designs (open and closed); fuel (olive oil, olive oil with salt, nut oil, tallow) and wick (1cm and 2cm) combinations. We will quantitatively record fuel consumption rates/times (with digital scales and watches), brightness (with light meters and multi-observer reading distance tests) and note the resulting sooting patterns on the lamps. We will also qualitatively record our impressions of other sensory aspects such as heat and smell and video the experiments. This research will help us to better understand metric and typological patterns discovered during a previous successful COLAT-funded programme of research on lamps from Roman London.

£5920 to Jacqui Pearce for ‘Communicating new knowledge on London’s 18th-century porcelain industry’. The applicant writes:

The aim of this project is to bring to a wider public audience the findings of a detailed assessment already undertaken by MOLA for Historic England of London’s 18th-century porcelain production sites. The English porcelain industry began in London and the evidence from six mid to late 18th-century production sites is examined: Isleworth, Chelsea, Vauxhall, Limehouse, St James’s and Bow, as well as the Isleworth porcelain dumps at Hanworth Road, Hounslow.

The influence and significance of these factories in their own day was considerable, not only in London, but also as part of the ceramic revolution that was taking place at a national level. The development of a native porcelain industry was of great importance as potters and entrepreneurs attempted to establish a viable home-grown alternative to the lucrative China trade.

A report commissioned by Historic England, Assessment of London’s Early (18th–19th century) Porcelain Industries (2016) has drawn an outline of the history of each porcelain production site from a wide range of sources, including archaeological investigations, cartographic and documentary records, and the considerable quantities of ceramic production waste that have been recovered by excavation from the late 19th century onwards, supported by a wide-ranging survey of published material relating to each factory. This assessment report is not, however, accessible to the wider audience of archaeological specialists, students, and independent researchers working on London’s ceramic industries.

The proposed project has two major aims. The first is to publish a synthesis of the main findings of the significant research undertaken for the Assessment of London’s Early (18th–19th century) Porcelain Industries (2016) report in an appropriate journal (Post-Medieval Archaeology) for wider dissemination. The intention is to open a gateway into a field of ceramic study beset by complex problems of attribution that have frequently deterred archaeologists in the past, summarizing the current state of knowledge relating to each factory and to the industry as a whole, and demonstrating their crucial role in the history of English ceramics. This information is currently widely distributed over a bewildering array of sources, some of them quite obscure, and a principal aim of publishing the results of the study is to bring together the considerable diversity of material in one place and so facilitate further research into this important aspect of London’s contribution to ceramic history.

Study this: Site Manual added to CoLAT London Publications page

At the end of our London Publications and other links page we have now placed a link to a copy of the Museum of London’s Site Manual (3rd edition, edited by Andrew Westman, 1994), produced with support from CoLAT. This is the recording manual of the archaeologists working in London, first published in 1980. This is the current edition which has not changed since 1994. It is used or imitated round the world. If you are a professional or amateur archaeologist, wherever you are, you can download this manual and use it. Remember, consistency is very important in recording on sites within an area or a city, to make sites comparable.

CoLAT responds to consultation request about the Draft Local Plan of the City of London

The draft City of London Local Plan for the years to 2036 was issued for consultation in November 2018. CoLAT made comments on the chapter about Historic Environment, as follows:

‘We welcome everything in this section and none of the policies or intentions should be watered down. We welcome the inclusion of thinking about the World Heritage Site at the Tower of London. We welcome that there now seems to be widespread agreement that a responsible approach to its heritage can enhance the City of London in the eyes of commercial and private visitors, and make it an enviable place in which to work and live.

There is however always room for improvement. Two points at the practical level. First, in 6.4.23 you mention the usual requirement that developers pay for all the archaeological work on their sites, including publication of the results. Unfortunately publication, being at the end, is still too often squeezed for resources. Some important projects lie in archive because the money ran out. Archaeologists are grateful to developers for meeting their responsibilities, but a little more effort and generosity is required. Second, in paragraph 6.4.18 and Policy HE2 you say that the Corporation will 'enhance archaeological monuments'. We draw your attention to the removal, over time, of several of the plaques about the City wall along the City wall walk. These should be reinstated.

Third, and this is more a general comment than one on a particular paragraph, the Trust suggests that the time is now right for a Deposit Survey of all the historic strata in the City, from the Roman period onwards, to be commissioned. This would produce a 3D-model of the resource, and be of use to planners, developers and archaeologists preparing projects. The last such Survey was in 1972. It is little known that the archaeological resource in the City is in places over nine metres deep.

We hope these comments are useful, and applaud the consultation process.’

CoLAT publishes major study of the historic waterfront of the City of London

London’s Waterfront cover

London’s Waterfront cover

On 30 April 2018 Archaeopress and CoLAT published London’s Waterfront 1100–1666: excavations in Thames Street, London, 1974–84 by John Schofield, Lyn Blackmore and Jacqui Pearce, with Tony Dyson. This monograph presents the archaeology and history of a number of medieval properties and the parish church of St Botolph Billingsgate, which was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and not rebuilt. It is based on four excavations by the Museum of London in Thames Street in 1974 to 1984.

The press release for the publication is on the page dedicated to this project, London Waterfront. Here also you will find the whole 550-page text as a PDF file, available for download free, and supporting archive files, interim articles and a link to the BBC Chronicle film made about the largest excavation reported here, Billingsgate, in 1982–3.

CoLAT supports and publishes a recording guide for Roman lamps

Shining New Light on Roman London

Shining New Light on Roman London.

30th December 2017

CoLAT has supported the writing of a project handbook and recording guide for Roman ceramic lamps, based on the many examples excavated in London, by Michael Marshall of MOLA. This was first published in November 2016 and updated in June 2017.

It is a guide for use by all archaeologists to the description and classification of Roman ceramic lamps from London, and it can be used on other Roman sites. It helps the investigation of the function, use and technology of these important objects. The Shining New Light on Roman London project is still in progress, and comments on the guide and its use are welcome. You can download the illustrated text here (PDF, 4.6Mb).

CoLAT grants 2017

The Management Committee of the City of London Archaeological Trust (CoLAT) met on 11 December 2017 and awarded the following grants:

£4915 to Lyn Blackmore of MOLA to study and publish 'The imported pottery from the Tower Postern.' The southern tower of the medieval postern gate of the City of London was excavated in 1979, revealing a cellar that survived its collapse around 1430 which yielded a vast assemblage of pottery. This includes the first major collection (about 1140 sherds) of 13th- to 16th-century imported pottery to be found in a closed, non-waterfront context on the north bank of the river outside the City of London. The group is of international importance for the wide range of forms and sources present (including Italy, Spain, North Africa, France, Germany and the Low Countries). It also represents a later period of dumping than is found along the city waterfront (where legislation and the construction of lengths of riverside wall from the 14th century onwards made it difficult to discard rubbish in the river) and, unlike contemporary riverside landfill dumps, was protected from disturbance and erosion, so that it can be reliably taken as a stratified sequence of deposition. This proposed study of 13th- to 16th-century imported pottery can be used to considerc hanges in the contemporary economy, the movement of people, goods and ideas, distribution and consumption, and how these were affected by the discovery of the 'new' world.

£1912.50 to Rachel Cubitt of MOLA for research on 'Spoons from Londinium'. This research arises out of recent finds of lead-alloy Roman spoons at several sites. Recent publications have considered the form, capacity and decoration of spoons and the specific characteristics of different materials such as colour, taste and affordability, along with evidence for use-wear. The London spoons will be assessed against each of these criteria. Re-examination of the spoons from MOLA sites and the MOL collections is necessary to consider the capacity of the bowls and if they show signs of use wear. The potentially Bacchic nature of the decoration on the spoons should be evaluated in light of other Bacchic material from London, and consideration given to the finds spots of these spoons compared to the other Bacchic material and to sites thought to be associated with his worship.

£4720 to Rebecca Gordon of MOLA for research entitled 'Detecting London's migrant community: Jewish food and cultural identity.' From 1066, there was a known Jewish population in the City. This phase of occupation lasted up until their expulsion by the Crown in 1290 and they were not formally permitted back into England until 1656. Although there is a wealth of historical evidence for London's Jewish community, archaeological evidence has been sparse. Although the recovery of Jewish material culture has been limited, the potential of faunal remains to detect cultural groups is yet to be fully explored. Yet food is an important marker of ethnic, religious and social identity: its archaeological value stems from the high preservation potential of food waste and the fact that such expressions of identity are made on a daily basis. Although previous attempts to identify London's Jewish community using animal bones have proved unsuccessful or inconclusive there is scope to explore whether butchery marks and body parts can indicate the the method for slaughtering and preparing meat according to Jewish dietary laws. Zooarchaeological investigations of animal bones from areas with a known Jewish population has shown that the predominance of body parts (i.e. forelimbs) and butchery evidence can be useful identifiers for Jewish occupation. This illustrates how animal bones can be used as an important investigative tool in recognising cultural groups by focussing on distinctive faunal signatures. Once the framework has been developed and tested, the intention is to apply it to other sites in England where Jewish activity can be formally identified; particularly in areas/ periods where their presence made have gone undocumented (i.e. after their expulsion).

CoLAT places major study of London’s waterfront online

CoLAT has now placed on its website the text and figures of a major archaeological and historical study, London’s Waterfront 1100–1666, by John Schofield, Lyn Blackmore and Jacqueline Pearce with Tony Dyson. This can be found at London’s Waterfront. It presents excavations by the Museum of London in the medieval waterfront area of the City of London south of Thames Street in 1974 to 1984.

This is a new form of archaeological publishing. The large report and its illustrations form the main online element; the current edition is of June 2017. This can be cited as an academic work by researchers, but will probably be added to and refined in the future as further research is done. Also online here are supporting files which encourage and enable researchers to examine the archaeological data, of buildings, waterfronts and finds, to undertake their own research. There is also a link to a 50-minute BBC programme made about the Billingsgate excavation, broadcast in 1983. CoLAT hopes that all this is an archaeological resource which will be used by others, and so it will grow.

At the same time, conventional publishing in paper and ebook form is being discussed with the publisher Archaeopress. Because of the volume of the existing report, with its illustrations and many tables, the conventional report may have to be only the majority of the primary text. The online version will in any case remain for consultation.

Have a look and see what you think.

CoLAT is consulted on City of London planning policies

London will be a more attractive world financial centre if it is seen to look after its historic buildings, monuments and evidence of its past. CoLAT is now regularly consulted by the City of London on proposed changes and improvements to all kinds of policies concerning the City, but especially on archaeology, conservation and the environment. Recent consultations have been about several Conservation Areas, the City churchyards and the Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) about the conservation and management of Leadenhall Market. By making its comments, CoLAT helps to find ways to integrate the City’s historic assets into the modern townscape.

New book on St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul's Cathedral: Archaeology And History.

The cover of St Paul's Cathedral: Archaeology And History. View the cover at full resolution

The Secretary of CoLAT, John Schofield, is also Cathedral Archaeologist for St Paul's Cathedral. In 2016 he published St Paul's Cathedral: Archaeology And History with Oxbow Books.

This is a study of the Wren building, from the start of its construction in 1675 up to the early 21st century. Archaeology, conservation, and engineering aspects are covered.

CoLAT welcomes new historic plaque

Cover of The Roads to Rome walking guide.

The Eleanor Cross memorial stone. View the memorial stone at full resolution

In 2015 the Corporation of London placed an inscribed memorial stone on the ground surface on the churchyard of St Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside. This commemorates the Eleanor Cross of 1291-4, a notable medieval monument which stood nearby in the centre of Cheapside until its destruction in 1643. Parts of the Cross are on display in the Museum of London. CoLAT welcomes this development of a network of plaques and monumental memorials which is crystallising in the historic City of London. Nearby is a larger example, the outline of most of the 14th-century cloister and octagonal chapter house of St Paul's Cathedral, south of the nave of the Wren building.

Rosemary Green Grant

CoLAT has awarded the Rosemary Green Grant, comprising £80,000 over three years, to Jelena Beklavac and her team at the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology of the Museum of London, for the project The impact of industrialisation on London health. This is the largest single grant ever awarded by CoLAT, and derives from a substantial bequest made to the Trust by Miss Rosemary Green. For details of the winning project, see the Rosemary Green Grant page.

CoLAT produces a guide to a walk round the Roman City of London, in partnership with the Corporation of London

Cover of The Roads to Rome walking guide.

The Roads to Rome walking guide. View the cover at full resolution

CoLAT and the Corporation of London have produced a short guide to a walk around the City of London, evoking some of its Roman highlights. This is one of a series being produced by the Corporation to encourage exploration of the City. The Trust's Secretary John Schofield provided the text and designed the walk. The 14-page folding leaflet is available free from the City's Information Centre in St Paul's Churchyard; and is available to download (PDF, 2.9Mb).