Volunteers prcoessing finds from MOLA's Guildhall excavation

42,500+ bags of artefacts from the Guildhall Yard and still counting

Phil Jefferies

In 1992 the Roman amphitheatre was discovered under the Guildhall Yard in the City of London. The Roman landmark had eluded archaeologists for hundreds of years. During the dig thousands of finds were revealed, from a pearl pendant earing dropped in an amphitheatre gutter, to Samian pottery depicting gladiators fighting. Alongside these finds thousands of pottery sherds, animal bones and fragments of building material were uncovered.

A team of volunteers has been hard at work readying the material to be handed over to the Museum of London Archaeological Archive. It’s been a mammoth task, so huge thanks to the volunteers. This is what the project looks like in numbers…

•    Volunteers worked on the project for 293 days over a 2.5 year period. That’s 4,100 hours of volunteer time, from 49 members of the public.

•    2,345 boxes of archaeological material have been looked at (not including human remains).

•    Over 8,000 bags of animal bone have been sorted.

•    More than 11,000 bags of bulk material have been pored over, including pot sherds and building materials.

•    In excess of 2,700 bags of environmental remains have been repackaged, including plants, molluscs and insects.

•    Over 20,800 registered finds have been organised. This includes roughly 270 finds discovered in the bulk materials, thanks to the vigilant eyes of the volunteers.

•    An estimated c.6,000kgs of the boxed material has been packed in 1,000kgs of packaging.

•    Approximately 22 miles have been travelled around the building moving the material from storage to the preparation room and back again, roughly the distance from our offices in Islington, in London to St Albans in Hertfordshire.

•    The finds carried 3.05m up 18 steps, two boxes (8kgs) at a time, making 1,222 ascents and descents with the boxes and the same again without them. This is equivalent to climbing to the 72nd floor observation deck of the Shard (244m) and down again 15 times, then repeating the journey empty handed.  

So archiving is more active than you might think!

The excavation findings can be explored in ‘London’s Roman amphitheatre: Guildhall Yard, City of London’.

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