<< Our Photo Pages >> Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge - Timber Circle in England in Greater London

Submitted by Andy B on Thursday, 06 January 2011  Page Views: 22114

Neolithic and Bronze AgeSite Name: Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge
Country: England County: Greater London Type: Timber Circle
Nearest Town: London  Nearest Village: Vauxhall
Map Ref: TQ30217814
Latitude: 51.487227N  Longitude: 0.126016W
4Almost Perfect
3Reasonable but with some damage
2Ruined but still recognisable as an ancient site
1Pretty much destroyed, possibly visible as crop marks
0No data.
-1Completely destroyed
1 Ambience:
2Not Good
0No data.
1 Access:
5Can be driven to, probably with disabled access
4Short walk on a footpath
3Requiring a bit more of a walk
2A long walk
1In the middle of nowhere, a nightmare to find
0No data.
1 Accuracy:
5co-ordinates taken by GPS or official recorded co-ordinates
4co-ordinates scaled from a detailed map
3co-ordinates scaled from a bad map
2co-ordinates of the nearest village
1co-ordinates of the nearest town
0no data

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Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge
Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge submitted by Andy B : The site is on the foreshore right outside the MI5 headquarters Image provided by the excavation team (Vote or comment on this photo)
In difficult conditions and under the attentive eyes of security services and a circling helicopter, a team from Thames Discovery Programme (TDP), has discovered London’s oldest structure on the foreshore of the Thames just metres from the MI6 building in Vauxhall. Details of one of the most significant ever foreshore finds have just been revealed in the latest issue of London Archaeologist, published today.

As they surveyed the foreshore in spring of 2010, archaeologists from TDP found six timber piles of up to 0.3 metres in diameter. Although no definite alignment or function can yet be determined, it is clear that the piles formed part of a prehistoric structure which stood beside the river over 6000 years ago, during the Mesolithic period, when river levels were lower and the landscape very different. Structures of Mesolithic date are very rare anywhere in Britain.

Kept secret until it could be fully recorded and investigated, the site is located at the confluence of the Rivers Effra and Thames. Near the timbers, late Mesolithic stone tools, including a fine tranchet adze (a woodworking tool), were also discovered, as well as slightly later Neolithic pottery of two distinct types. The area, may have been a significant, named place continuing through centuries or even millennia. It is only 600 m downstream from the Bronze Age timber-built bridge or jetty (c 1500 BC) which hit the headlines in the 1990s.

Archaeologists from TDP made the discovery as they investigated the area as part of a continuing project to record archaeological and historical remains on the foreshore. With support from English Heritage, the Museum of London and the geomatics team of Museum of London Archaeology a detailed survey was carried out, radiocarbon dates obtained for the six piles, and specialist analysis of the artefacts and environmental evidence performed.

The timbers are located very near the lowest tide level of the Thames. More evidence may be recovered in future since, like most of the astonishing remains that have been discovered on the foreshore – from huge collections of ships timbers to human burials to Saxon fish traps – the site is affected by the scour created by the twice-daily tides and the growing river traffic. The remains are also threatened by planned riverside developments, including the much needed Combined Sewer Overflow which will pass metres from the timbers. A major research project is underway.

The fieldwork was supported by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund and from the Southwark and Lambeth Archaeological Excavation Committee.

‘London’s Top Secret’ by Gustav Milne, Nathalie Cohen and Jon Cotton, was published in London Archaeologist, Winter issue, vol 12 no 11, on 6 January 2011

Note: London’s oldest structure revealed, over 6000 years old.
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Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge
Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge submitted by Andy B : Archaeologists survey the timbers Image provided by the excavation team (Vote or comment on this photo)

Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge
Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge submitted by Andy B : Archaeologists survey the timbers Image provided by the excavation team (Vote or comment on this photo)

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Nearby Images from Geograph Britain and Ireland:
TQ3078 : London : Vauxhall - Vauxhall Bridge by Lewis Clarke
by Lewis Clarke
TQ3078 : Works, Vauxhall Bridge by Stephen Richards
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TQ3078 : Hole in the river... by David Martin
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TQ3078 : River Thames near Vauxhall Bridge by Paul Gillett
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TQ3078 : Vauxhall Bridge by Jim Barton
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"Mesolithic structure near Vauxhall bridge" | Login/Create an Account | 2 News and Comments
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Mesolithic London by Cernunnos on Sunday, 09 January 2011
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This is a valuable find, considering the overall lack of Mesolithic evidence. I would add that this site would very much be at the tail end of the Mesolithic, and given the pottery finds, its usage likely continued into the Early Neolithic.
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More about the River Effra by Andy B on Thursday, 06 January 2011
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Caroline Noble delves underground to discover what happened to the River Effra and stumbles across a campaign to restore it

The River Effra was once a large tributary to The Thames and was already being used as a sewer by the 17th century, although the upper reaches were still clear in the second half of the 19th. The name is derived from the Celtic word for torrent (e.g. 'ffrydlif' in current Welsh) given by the pre-Roman tribes (see Peter Akroyd's 'The Thames').

Time Out traces the route of south London's lost river Effra – with the aid of an artist, a dowsing rod and a few leaps of faith
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