Ancient Monuments

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Roman amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard

A Scheduled Monument in Cheap, City of London

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.5156 / 51°30'56"N

Longitude: -0.0921 / 0°5'31"W

OS Eastings: 532477.971837

OS Northings: 181357.028307

OS Grid: TQ324813

Mapcode National: GBR RB.GW

Mapcode Global: VHGR0.C54G

Entry Name: Roman amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard

Scheduled Date: 23 July 1990

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1013411

English Heritage Legacy ID: 13201

County: City of London

Electoral Ward/Division: Cheap

Built-Up Area: City of London

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): City of London

Church of England Parish: St Vedast Foster Lane

Church of England Diocese: London

Details

The monument is an elliptical amphitheatre, c.105m long and 85m wide,
externally sealed beneath Guildhall Yard and its surrounding buildings.
Although located beneath these later buildings, its extent and general ground
plan can be discerned from its effect on the topography of this area of the
city, in particular whose streets established in the 10th and 11th centuries
have obviously been routed to avoid it. Moreover, an area corresponding to
the centre of the arena has been kept an open space since at least the 14th
century.
Partial excavations by the Museum of London in 1951, 1985 and 1987-8 have
provided much detail on the structural form of the monument. Of particular
note is the preservation of timber remains as this was a major material used
in the original construction. The degree of preservation is such that many
fine details of construction, which would not normally survive on a 'dry' site
have been investigated and recorded. Features revealed include an outer wall
retaining the seating banks, the inner arena wall and the arena itself, an
east entrance with two side-chambers likely to have been shrines or changing
rooms, a porch, plank-lined drains and sumps, timber thresholds and a piled
structure round the inside of the arena wall. This work has indicated that
the site was in use between the early 2nd century and c.AD360. By the late
4th century, however, stone was being robbed from the site suggesting it had
fallen out of use. After a period of neglect, building began on the site in
the early Medieval period and has continued down to the present day.
All buildings on the site are excluded from this scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included. Additionally all roads within the proposed
constraint area are excluded, but the remains beneath them are included.

MAP EXTRACT
The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features,
considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.

Source: Historic England

Reasons for Scheduling

Roman amphitheatres are rare monuments in Britain, there being only twelve
known examples. This example is of particular importance because of its
association with the Roman provincial capital of Londinium, a factor reflected
in its size. The site would have provided the main focus of entertainment
within the capital, the provision of which was seen as one of the marks of
Roman civilised life. Additionally, it is unusual in that it is located
inside the later walled defences of Londinium and also close to the fort. It
is one of only five of Britain's amphitheatres to show a military rather than
civilian connection this way.
The excavations on the site have demonstrated that archaeological remains
survive well and extensively. In particular, the waterlogged conditions have
led to the excellent preservation of timber and other normally perishable
remains. This has given an insight into structural details not normally
preserved.

Source: Historic England

Sources

Books and journals
Barron, C, The Medieval Guildhall of London, (1974)
Hobley, B, The Guildhall Roman Amphitheatre, (1988)
'Britannia' in Guildhall Yard (Roman Britain in 1987), , Vol. XIX, (1988)
Bateman, N, 'London Archaeologist' in Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard (excavation round-up 1987), , Vol. 5, (1988)
Maloney, J, 'London Illustrated News' in Fun and Games in Roman London, (1988)
Other
BM Add MSS 5415, Leake, J, Surveigh of streets, lanes & churched within ruines of Cty Londn, (1666)

Source: Historic England

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