When you see the blend of old and new buildings on a London guided tour, it can be hard to think of a time when London was not such a hodgepodge of styles. Every building had to be added onto the existing cityscape at some point, and, when these works are undertaken, the spaces they are built on provide some often-unusual finds.
For example, when archaeologists were excavating in order to perform a major overhaul at St Pancras train station, they were aware that they were digging on a site which was a 19th century burial ground. What they didn’t expect to find, according to Londonist, were the remains of a four meter-long walrus buried in a coffin with human bodies. No one is still quite sure why or how it got there.
London is one of Europe’s oldest capitals and has been inhabited by and built over by enormously varied civilizations. What that means is that there’s an archaeological layer almost 30 foot deep to explore, which, as a metropolitan city, only rarely gets the opportunity to let archaeologists take advantage.
However, new projects often give the chance for archaeologists to make new discoveries. When the new Bloomberg building was under construction in the ancient borough of Cordwainer, a significant Roman village was discovered, with much preserved, including entire buildings. It was dubbed the Pompei of the north.
Crossrail has also been a rich source for archaeological finds, as its 26 miles of tunnels have turned up thousands of finds at 40 excavation sites across the capital.