Under the streets of the Guildhall Yard in the City of London is a hidden ancient gem that many people don’t know exist. In 2015 I visited this incredible site to explore it and learn more.
Buried deep beneath the London streets, accessed via the Guildhall Gallery building, are the remains of a vast Roman amphitheatre, discovered by Museum of London archaeologists in 1988. The paving stones outside the building give a tantalising glimpse of what lies beneath with a large oval of black slabs showing just how large it is.
At the time of discovery, an archaeological excavation was taking place on the site, with a view to building a new Art Gallery. What archaeologists found were the remains of a Roman Amphitheatre, the discovery meant that the site of the Guildhall yard became a protected historical site, so it was agreed to incorporate the remains into the new Art Gallery.
Entering the building you follow signs, heading downwards into what feel like the depths of the earth, until you reach two wooden doors simply marked “Roman Amphitheatre”. Inside is a vast dark space, with walkways between ancient walls. On the floor are see through covers with ancient wood structures on view. At the far end is a luminous green matrix depiction, showing figures of people and how high the levels of the amphitheatre may have been.
There are also boards around the site explaining the amphitheatre and what the finds are such as walls walls, the east gate and part of an original stone entrance tunnel. Exploring the site is so interesting, and it’s amazing to see how this site has remained buried and protected from modern building practices and disturbance.
The discovery and continuing excavations of the site are a must-see glimpse of ancient Roman Britain for any visitor to London, so if you love the ancient, then add this to your list of things to see and do. It’s definitely worth it!
For more information, visit the City of London Website
All photos taken by Chrissie Parker
Welcome to my blog, My occasional ramblings will take you on a journey through many subjects, from my books, to history, as well as what it's like to be a writer and my love of travelling! Enjoy the updates!