AD 886 – Return to the Roman City: Bullwharf

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On Christmas Day 886, King Alfred, exasperated by the attacks of the Danes, finally decided to abandon the undefended ‘open’ site of Lundenwic, and to return to the safety of the old Roman walls. At Bullwharf, evidence of this very first return has been discovered, on a site already recorded in the documents as ‘Queenhythe’.


Image A Saxon Sacrifice

What happened when the Saxon returned to the old Roman city, surrounded by the ghosts of old?
A sacrifice had to be made, and down by the river, two bodies were discovered, buried on the open foreshore. Here we see one of them, a young woman covered by moss. The hole in her head from which she died is clearly visible.


Image A late Saxon Wharf

The new, or rather the revived town, grew rapidly. Wharves were gradually pushed forward out into the river. Here we see one of these wharves being excavated, re-using timbers that had evidently come from an elaborate timber hall. The archaeologists were able to reconstruct this late Saxon hall, based on these re-used timbers.


Image The massive medieval wharves

In Saxon and medieval London, the wharves were continually bring rebuilt further out into the river, to reclaim more land for the warehouses.
Because this land has always remained waterlogged, the timbers have been preserved. Here we see a wharf of 1026/7 – the date being given by tree-ring dating.

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