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Roman London, the London Wall - London Wall, West, corner of Blomfield street

Roman London - the London wall

These pages are based on a "Royal Commission On Historical Monuments 1834" - actually it is 1928; which is in the public domain.

[21] . London Wall, West, corner of Blomfield street.
In 1837, "In building the new sewer, at a few feet eastward of Carpenters Buildings, an ancient sewer of Roman workmanship was cut through.
It was embedded in a mass of rubble masonry 12 feet wide. At 14 feet southward of London Wall, it terminated in a mouth cut to the slope of the ditch into which it had discharged itself. The bank of the ditch was covered with large quantities of moss. On the northern side it had been converted into a place of sepulchre. The remains of two skeletons, with a large dogs skull and part of the stem of a rams horn, were found therein, together with some Roman pottery, a small silver coin of Antoninus, and a copper coin of Faustina and other ancient money. One upright and two sloping stout iron bars at 12 feet north of the new sewer, Moorgate street to Old Broad street, closed the mouth of this tomb, and were in the most perfect state of preservation, still retaining their grey colour.
At 11 1/2 feet northward the crown had been broken in. A coarsely wrought base of a column was among the rubbish. The bottom is flat and paved with two layers of large tiles, and the sides and arch of the sewer are built with small tiles with thick joints of mortar.
The bed of this ancient work and that of the new sewer being nearly coincident, they were connected on both sides . The substructure of the City wall is rubble banded at 3-foot intervals with two thicknesses of large tiles.

Sir W Tite’s description of the same discovery adds some further details and is as follows :—
"Eastwards of Carpenters' Hall, a mass of rubble masonry, of about 12 feet in thickness, was cut through , and in the centre was found a culvert or Roman sewer, in which were discovered three iron bars in perfect preservation, enclosing a human skull of a dog, and the stem of a stag’s horn, together with a silver coin of Antoninus and a copper com of Faustina. Beyond this point the crown of the culvert had been broken in and a fragment of a rudely wrought column had fallen through the breach. As the ancient sewer passed under houses no further examination could be made in this direction, but on the south side it was only found to be perfect, but even the mouth of it was discovered under a house at the north-east corner of Carpenters Buildings. The sewer was
constructed of small thin tiles, cemented together by very thick joints of red mortar, made of pounded tile, and having a large pebble inserted in the centre of each.
From the top of the sewer to the opposite bank of a ditch into which it discharged itself were placed several pieces of timber scantling in a sloping direction, and a considerable quantity of long moss, undecayed and still retaining a greenish colour, was taken from between them. The ditch receiving the contents of the sewer was made on the south side of the remains of a strong work like part of a fortification, about the site of Little Moorgate or the entrance of Bloomfield Street. As the depth from the present surface to the bottom of the sewer was 18 feet 4 inches, and the open ditch of the fortress was still deeper, it is evident that at the time when they were constructed the adjacent ground was dry and substantial, for the later accumulation of soil was so soft that at one part the bricks could scarcely be laid [Cat, of Antiq. Roy. Exch., XXXI]. A City Sewers Plan [I, 124] gives the precise position of this culvert.

Roach Smith's account of the discovery of a second “ aquaduct " in 1841 is as follows :
" In London Wall, opposite Finsbury Chambers, at the depth of 19 feet. [to the extrados of the arch] what appeared to have been a subterranean aquaduct was laid open. It was found to run towards Finsbury under the houses of the Circus about 20 feet.
At the termination were five iron bars fastened perpendicularly into the masonry. . . . At the opening of the work towards the city was an arch (Plate 27) 3 1/2 feet high from the crown to the springing-wall, and 3 1/4 feet wide, composed of 50 tiles disposed as shown in the engraving. The spandrels were filled in with rag-stone to afford strength to the work." He estimates the total length of the enclosed as 60 yards. Finsbury Chambers was the block on the West corner of 
Blomfield Street, but its entrance would appear to have been a short distance West of the junction of the two streets. The second culvert would thus have been very near, if not directly below, that discovered in 1837. The drawing shows that the channel was 24 1/2 feet below the present surface, or 5 feet lower than that of the culvert first discovered.
It is possible, therefore, that the higher culvert may have been inserted at a later date, when the lower channel had become blocked.

And Last updated on: Wednesday, 10-Jun-2020 23:02:19 BST
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