thames discovery programme

key site information: Custom House FCY04
The zone is approximately 500m long and 50m wide; it is bounded to the W by London Bridge and to the E by Quay Walk. The access to the site is via stone stairs to the E of Custom House. These are well maintained, with a handrail but can become slippery at times. The ground conditions on the site are generally firm (sands and gravels) however, caution is necessary as mudlarkers are active on the site, and there are dredged areas masked by deep mud.

archaeological and historical background
prehistoric A number of prehistoric finds have been recovered from the area. Residual flints were discovered during excavations at Regis House to the west of the zone, and a Neolithic flint axe was found on Lower Thames Street. Two Bronze Age axes, a spearhead and a sword were recovered from the foreshore. roman The zone lies to the south of the line of the Roman waterfront (i.e. within the contemporary river channel), and Roman ceramics and metalwork have been recovered during mudlarking activities on the Billingsgate foreshore. Numerous investigations in the immediate vicinity of the site have shown that the establishment of the Roman port in the mid 1st century AD led to the development of a succession of waterfront structures over the course of the next two hundred years. Quayside development was centred on the area of the Roman bridgehead (slightly downstream of modern London Bridge). The limits of this development are not exactly established, however waterfront structures of mid 2nd to mid 3rd century date were excavated at Old Custom House (now Sugar Quay) at the eastern end of the foreshore site, and the late 3rd century east-west river wall has been definitely identified as far east as Three Quays House, adjacent to the Tower. early medieval From the late 4th century until c900AD there is almost no sign of permanent settlement within the walled city, and waterfront sites uniformly provide evidence of considerable silting over the latest Roman quays. After the Alfredian reoccupation of the city the only evidence of activity in the area comes from excavations to the west of Custom House; at Regis House (where a number of sunken feature buildings were recorded dating to the 10th and 11th centuries), and at New Fresh Wharf (where clay and timber embankments dating to the late 10th and early 11th centuries were identified). A single coin of Eadred AD946-55 has been recovered from the foreshore. The placename ‘Billingsgate’ is likely to be of Saxon origin and the dedication of the nearby church to St Botolph is also indicative of activity of this date. later medieval Archaeological evidence from four nearby sites (London Bridge, New Fresh Wharf, Billingsgate and (old) Custom House) shows successive southward waterfront development from west to east. Corn, malt and salt, as well as fish, were landed and traded at Billingsgate, which was one of the City’s principal wharves. The first Custom House was built in 1275 to the east of the present site; it was rebuilt in 1378 by John Churchman, Sheriff of London. post medieval In 1559 Custom House was rebuilt by William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester. It was destroyed during the Great Fire of 1666 and again rebuilt by Christopher Wren. In 1714, an accidental explosion of gunpowder severely damaged the Wren building, and it was reconstructed by John Ripley (1717-25). This building again burnt down in 1814. Construction of a new Custom House, designed by David Laing (on the present site) began in 1813 and was completed by 1817. A partial collapse of the building in 1825 led to Laing’s dismissal and a subsequent rebuilding by Robert Smirke; it is this building which largely survives on the site today. The East Wing of the Custom House was destroyed during the WWII Blitz and rebuilt to the original plan.

ά101 ά102 ά103 ά104 ά105 ά106 ά107 ά108 ά109 ά110 ά111 ά112 ά113 ά114 ά115 ά116 ά117 ά118 ά119 ά120 ά121 ά122 ά123 ά124 ά125 ά126 ά127 ά128 ά129 ά130 ά131 ά132 ά133 ά134 ά135 ά136 ά137 ά138 ά139

Access Riverfront defence Access Bargebed Agradation Vessel Consolidation Artefact scatter Vessel Mooring feature Jetty Jetty Gridiron Mooring feature Agradation Artefact scatter Mooring feature Riverfront defence Consolidation Gridiron? Wharf Riverfront defence Deposit Wharf Wharf Wharf Riverfront defence Riverfront defence Wharf Artefact scatter Furniture Timber Structure (unclassified) Structure (unclassified) Vessel Structure (unclassified) Wharf Riverfront defence Riverfront defence

Custom House Stairs. Wide granite steps with modern railing Granite riverside wall (1819) Causeway leading from ά101. Middle section eroded away. Remainder consists of planks, uprights and concrete Very large bargebed with metal and wood tie backs. Overlain by ά103 Layer of sand, gravel, chalk, pot, tile, glass (river rolled), at top of foreshore Remains of vessel under modern jetty Chalk consolidation. Currently being eroded out and spread over zone Animal bone, with frequent clay pipe fragments Remains of vessel Anchor point. Round metal object with chain Concrete slab. Remains of access to jetty Remains of jetty in water, now used as dolphins In front of Custom House Anchor point and chain. Moulded concrete Mud, largely covering bargebed and in dredged area in front of this. Timbers. Planks and offcuts, marking mudlarking holes Anchor point and chain. Stone. Concrete riverside wall (under modern jetty) Concreted consolidation - eroding out Remains of gridiron? Remains of wharf Sheet piled riverwall Very frequent shell (oyster, mussel, scallop, whelk) and pot, tile, clay pipe, animal bone Remains of wharf with braces, standing up to approx 5m in height ?Revetment and wharf (2/3 phases). Roundwood piles and horizontal planking (reused house timbers) Collapsed wharf. Revetment similar to ά125, timber horizontals go back into brick wall ά127 Brick riverside wall Granite riverside wall Revetment beneath ά 120 (earlier wharf structure?) Nails on ά104. Exposed in middle of barge bed Sign. Parish boundary mark (All Hallows Barking / St Dunstan’s in the East) Possibly associated with stair Wharf? Timber. Group of timbers Timber – remains of stair? Causeway? Remains of vessel close to timbers ά136 Timber. Vertical posts Modern wharf structure - Wool Quay Sheet piled river wall Stone built river wall

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