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Excavations and observations on the site of the Dutch Church, Austin Friars, in the City of London

Bruce Watson

In 1950-1 the late Professor Grimes directed the excavation of the interior of the ruined Dutch Church (TQ 3293 8136) – once the nave of the Austin Friars priory church – which had been destroyed by bombing in 1940. This paper describes the results of that excavation and supplements them with information derived from more recent archaeological work in the area.

The earliest features were Roman gravel pits, which were infilled during the mid 2nd century. The area was then divided by a series of linear gullies, interpreted as property boundaries. Later the ground level was raised by soil dumping, and then, during the late 2nd or early 3rd centuries, a series of mud brick or cob-walled buildings were constructed. These buildings were subsequently demolished and others erected during the late 3rd or 4th centuries. The site was then sealed by a build-up of dark earth deposits.

The earliest post-Roman activity was the digging of rubbish pits, which began during the Saxo-Norman period. In 1253 the Austin Friars monastery was founded. The excavation lay within the nave and south aisle of the priory church, and revealed a series of rubble pier-bases for the south arcade, which appear to have been part of the original 13th-century work but were reused in a mid 14th-century rebuilding.

[Transactions 45 (1994), pp 13 – 22; published abstract, modified and augmented]

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