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Steve Mitchell and London

15 August 2014

Steve Mitchell, in an article in SIS Review claimed Anglo Saxon Londinwec was situated further up the Thames terracing than it was during the Roman period. Londinium was moved as a result of higher sea/river levels and a general flooding of coastal Britain in the Late Roman period was a reality – which meant early Saxon trading emporiums, or wics/wicks, were located on higher ground. In Current Archaeology 294 September 2014 (see www.archaeology.co.uk) page 6, there is a short report on a trench dug beneath a building on the Strand in order to instal a lift shaft. Now, the Strand clearly is situated on a terrace above the current Thames line, and represents a former position of the river (assumed to date from one of the Ice Ages).Now, I'm not suggesting the terrace itself dates to the 6th to 8th century AD. However, current building regulations require an archaeological survey during major works (and central London is known to be Roman sensitive). The survey, a sort of trial dig of the lift shaft, came up with some interesting information, Middle Saxon remains which included river defence systems (erected to cope with rising water). The site is now 100m from the Thames, on a terrace quite a bit higher than the Embankment, bhut in 600AD the Strand would have been situated directly on the river and the evidence here is a major Anglo Saxon period trading settlement or wic. It thrived between 600 and 900AD – and was possibly wiped out by the Viking raids.

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