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Rotherhithe Key Site Information

Rotherhithe Key Site Information

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Key site information about the archaeology and history of the foreshore at Rotherhithe
Key site information about the archaeology and history of the foreshore at Rotherhithe

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Thames Discovery Programme on Oct 04, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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thames discovery programme
Rotherhithe FSW03
The zone is approximately 470m long and 40m wide; the zone extends fromHope Wharf upstream to Clarence Wharf and Pier downstream. The onlyaccess to the site is via a flight of modern brick built stairs towards thedownstream end of the zone (Hanover Stairs); the stairs can be slippery,especially at the base. The ground conditions on the site are generally veryfirm and there is a considerable build up of deposits in the central part of thezone. Considerable erosion is notable at either end of the zone, particularlynear the Mayflower PH and downstream of the remaining moored houseboat.
archaeological and historical background
prehistoric and roman
To the west of the foreshore zone, excavations at Platform Wharf revealed evidence for BronzeAge and earlier activity, including a Neolithic polished stone axe. Further evidence forprehistoric activity has also been recorded to the south of the site, including trackways andplough marks. With the exception of an antiquarian record of Roman bricks recorded duringwork underpinning the tower of St Mary
s, there is no archaeological evidence for Romanactivity in the immediate vicinity of the site, and it seems likely that occupation was focusedfurther west and to the south, on areas of higher ground.
early and later medieval
The origins of historic settlement in Rotherhithe are far from certain. The name Rotherhithe isconsidered to be of Saxon origin, derived from
, mean
ing a ‘place where cattle are
embarked or landed’. Rotherhithe is not mentioned in the
Domesday Book 
of 1086 and itis not until 1127 that the first reliable reference to Rotherhithe (
) occurs in the Annalsof Bermondsey, when Henry I granted the manor of Rotherhithe to the monks of BermondseyAbbey. The origins of the church of St Mary are believed to lie in the Saxon period, althoughthe existing building dates to 1715 (replacing a 12
century structure). Again, theexcavations at Platform Wharf provide evidence for occupation just to the west in the early andlater medieval periods; during the 14
century a moated manor house was built here for EdwardIII.
post medieval
During this period, Rotherhithe’s waterfront became a bustling hive of maritime activity with
many shipbuilders, ship-breakers, commercial wharves, chandleries and mast-makers. In 1620the Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Rotherhithe for America in the
To the east of the site,on the Rotherhithe Peninsula,
Howland’s Great Wet Dock was constructed at the turn of the 18
 century as the largest commercial dock then in existence, being capable of accommodating 120ships. By the middle of the 18
century it was primarily associated with the whaling fleets andrenamed Greenland Dock. By 1860 Greenland Dock had been joined by Canada, Albion, Baltic,South and Norway Docks as well as the Surrey Basin. At this time Rotherhithe was at theforefront of marine technology; in 1792 an experimental steamship, the
Kent Ambinavigator 
,was built at Nelson Dock, and in 1821 the
Aaron Manby 
was assembled at Rotherhithe tobecome the first iron vessel to go to sea. Among the famous ships broken up here were theTrafalgar veterans
. Towards the end of the 19
century, however,ships had grown too large for the Rotherhithe yards which now focussed on repairing smallervessels. As late as the 1830s, the area behind the waterfront was still largely open and used for
market gardening, although the completion of Brunel’s tunnel in 1843, and its subse
quent usefor the East London Line in 1869 led to rapid development in the later 19
century. During WWIIthe docks suffered more damage from bombing than any in the country. They neverthelessplayed a part in the Normandy landings, South Dock being pumped dry and used to build theconcrete caissons for the Mulberry harbours. The Surrey Docks were closed in 1969.
A101 Access Hanover Stairs: Concrete/brickA102 Timbers Mooring posts? 2 Vertical posts. 0.60 x 0.30m.A103 Watercraft Moored Houseboat. 20.0m longA104 Hard Concrete sandbag. 30.0m long.A105 Watercraft Boat. Multiphase. Carvel-built. Stern with rudderA106 Timber. Nautical? 1.60 x 0.3m. Shipyard waste?A107 Timber. Nautical? Grooved 2.0m x 0.3m. ShipyardA108 Consolidation Pitch. 0.40m + thick. Shipyard waste?A109 Artefact scatter Nails. 10.0 x 0.5mA110 Gridiron. Reused nautical timbers? 10.0 x 5.0m +.A111 Agradation MudA112 Timbers 3.0m x 1.0m. Displaced from gridiron?A113 Consolidation Stone/cementA114 Consolidation Associated with A108, A113,A115 Consolidation Concrete lumpsA116 Watercraft Boat. Keel and floors. 4.0m long.A117 Artefact scatter May extend under A108A118 Watercraft? Timbers. Joined. 2 nautical? 1.50 x 0.60m. Rudder?A119 Structure (unclassified) Vessel? Bargebed?. Timber. 4.0m long.A120 Artefact scatter Various artefacts. Nails. 2.0 x1.0m.A121 Artefact scatter Various artefacts. Nails. 2.0 x1.0m.A122 Artefact scatter Timbers. 2. 2.0 x 2.0m. Boatyard waste?A123 Consolidation Concrete/stoneA124 Agradation Sand/shingle. 50.0 x 20.0m.A125 Artefact scatter Various artefacts. Nails. 2.0 x1.0m.A126 Artefact scatter Timbers. Nautical? 4.0m x 2.5m. Shipyard waste?A127 Mooring feature Timber. Reused windlass? and other nautical timbersA128 Structure (unclassified) Causeway? Double line of stakes up to 1.0m apart. 7 in one line.A129 Consolidation? Pitch 5.0m x 3.0m.A130 Timber Mast. Roundwood. Horizontal. 2.0m. Part of Causeway?A131 Access Causeway. Timber. Church StairsA132 Anchor Timber with chain. Held in place by horizontal timberA133 Timbers Timber structure. 4 vertical timbers at irregularA134 Timber Horizontal. Parallel to river wallA135 Bargebed 40.0 x 15.0m.A136 Jetty Mayflower PH: Several phases, includes present structure.A137 Access Church Stairs; now locked.A138 Jetty Timber, upstream of A135A139 Anchor Anchor. Modern. Stockless pattern. Iron with chains attachA140 Timber Timber. 2.0m x 0.30m. Shipyard scatter?

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