A new exhibition opens today at the Museum of London featuring an unprecedented collection of 19 metal vessels from the late Roman period, hailed by archaeologists as the most significant find in 30 years of excavations in the Upper Walbrook valley, in the heart of what is now the City of London.
The collection, which includes large wine buckets, a cauldron and large dishes, were discovered at the bottom of a wood lined well and provide tantalising new evidence of the rituals which may have accompanied the Roman abandonment of the city.
The finds were uncovered at Drapers Gardens, a site owned by the Drapers Company, during a dig by Pre-Construct Archaeology.
It’s thought the items may mark the symbolic closure of the well, a practice already recorded elsewhere in London but usually with ceramic flagons, figurines and even animal or human skulls.
It’s also possible that these remarkable pieces were hidden by departing Roman Londoners who anticipated a return to the city. Coins found in the well date its construction to AD330 and its closure to around AD380, when significant parts of the Roman city had been deserted.
Jenny Hall, curator of Roman London at Museum of London said “these finds are amazing, I just couldn’t stop grinning when I first saw them. In size and scale they are simply unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever been found from London before, or anywhere else in Britain.”
Entry to the museum is free.