Archaeology in Southwark

Our knowledge of Southwark's very early history is almost entirely due to the work of archaeologists. Despite its proximity to London, where there has been a long tradition of archaeology, it's only relatively recently that many of the most exciting finds and discoveries have been made in the borough. These have radically altered our view of Southwark's early history.

Recent development in the borough has increased the opportunity to undertake archaeological excavation.

Many important sites have been buried under Victorian period buildings. Rescue excavations have taken place on sites investigated only recently for the first time prior to redevelopment. Despite this, our knowledge is still partial, limited by the time available for excavations, the boundaries of the site being developed and sometimes by ground disturbance of more recent years.

Developers are required to report possible archaeological finds to Southwark Council's Archaeology Service, which monitors and coordinates excavations and cares for scheduled ancient monuments in the borough.

Archaeological finds from excavations in Southwark in the 1960's and 70's is distributed between the Cuming Museum and the Museum of London. More recent find include the London Stone, now held at the Museum of London's Archaeology Service.

The Cuming Museum also holds a large collection of objects from Southwark and the City of London found during the building of London Bridge, the embankment of the Thames and other major building and engineering works that took place in the Victorian period.

For a comprehensive insight into Southwark archaeology, see the publication 'Below Southwark, the Archaeological Story' published by the Southwark Local History Library. This is available at the Local History Library and most Southwark Libraries.  

Page last updated: 05 November 2021


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