Riverside treasures bring London’s past to life
A team of archaeologists have been working on 40 different sites where artefacts have been discovered during work on the capital’s £15 billion Crossrail project. This includes an important site by the Thames, which was once a 19th-century ironworks.
The artefacts will enable archaeologists to piece together more about London’s colourful past. They show the extensive heritage of the Thames before it was home to London boat hire companies and other leisurely activities.
Work on the new line, which will offer quick connections across London, began in 2009. Since then a variety of interesting sites have been unearthed. Some provide a glimpse into the normal lives of workers while others have been remarkable discoveries, such as a large grave for plague victims.
The importance of the river
One site of immense importance is a slipway to the Thames. It was part of the Thames Ironworks site when the river was more commercialised.
The company was a major contributor to the shipping industry in this country during the 19th century and archaeologists are excited by the finds from this site.
They manufactured vessels for use by military services throughout the world, including the Royal Navy. They were also responsible for introducing a number of initiatives that improved working life, even for the poorest employees.
The aim of the Crossrail project is to deliver a more efficient transport system for the capital that is fit for the future.
However, work at the sites has also contributed to our understanding of the past. We can learn how the city once operated and the impact on the people that lived here. These archaeological sites will provide a lasting legacy for a project that takes London into the future.