60 Holborn Viaduct

MOLA team
05.08.2011

Museum of London Archaeology are undertaking excavations during the redevelopment of 60 Holborn Viaduct.

Archaeological excavations have revealed the remains of a public house known as the Three Tuns at Holborn Bridge. The buildings have medieval origins which were enlarged during the Tudor period and into the 17th and 18th centuries. The walls survived over 2.5m high with architectural fragment indicating a highly decorated building with one room decorated with painted plaster to emulate ceramic tiles, and another with blue plaster walls.

The brick walls and floors of several buildings have been excavated along with water tanks, and furnaces associated with the brewing process. The buildings lined both sides of Snow Hill which was the main coaching road west out of London from Middle Ages. The full width of the road’s gravel surfaces have been recorded with buildings terraced down the slope of the hill on both sides of the road. Below the road surface was a large culvert with a series of drains servicing the buildings.

Other finds from the excavations include material associated with the pub such as a large number of 17th century clay tobacco pipes and a medallion from a wine bottle with a logo of three barrels and a surrounding text reading ’at the 3 Tuns at Holborne Bridge'. Items recovered from the drains included a large number of objects carved from bone, reflecting the site’s proximity to Smithfield cattle market.

The unexpectedly high quality of the archaeology owes much to the site’s location on the slopes of Snow Hill which ran down to the traditional crossing place of the River Fleet at Holborn Bridge before the construction of the Holborn Viaduct in the 1870s. The Viaduct’s construction resulted in the realignment of the earlier streets and raising of the ground level that has resulted in the survival of these important remains form a period that is often poorly represented in London’s archaeological record.

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