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The Roman features at Gateway House and Watling House, Watling Street, City of London (1954)

John D Shepherd

This paper describes the archaeological features observed and excavated in 1954 by Ivor Noël Hume on the sites of Gateway House and Watling House, Watling Street. The records are often brief and lacking in detail – owing to the adverse conditions in which the work was carried out – but correlation with features recorded in 1978 on the Watling Court site immediately to the east (sitecode WAT78), allows us to distinguish three main periods of development.

The Neronian-early Flavian Period 1 (c AD 55-75) is represented only by pits – which included evidence for glass-working – and no associated structures were noted. Period 2, from the Flavian to the Hadrianic period (c AD 75-125), followed contemporary developments at Watling Court (Period IV). Substantial buildings, with walls of clay on a ragstone foundation or of ragstone and tile throughout, and with mortar or opus signinum floors, were destroyed in the Hadrianic fire (c AD 125). There followed, at an unknown date, the construction of larger buildings (Period 3), which might represent a single structure. The rooms were decorated with plain red or decorated mosaics, and at least one was fitted with a hypocaust system. A 4th-century pit cut through the floor of one room and ‘dark earth’ accumulated on parts of the site.

At the northern ends of both sites, the constant adherence to an east-west alignment suggests a road or thoroughfare outside the areas examined, running beneath modern Watling Street. Encroachment on this line at Gateway House might suggest a realignment slightly north-westwards.

Post-Roman features were not examined in detail.

[Transactions 37 (1986), pp 125 – 44; published abstract, but augmented]

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