Medieval properties at Three Quays

MOLA team
25.02.2011

The archaeologist's day-to-day job is to find the objects and structures relating to past lives. The insights they give can sometimes even be related to individuals; and, importantly, not necessarily famous ones.

At Three Quays we are lucky as, in 2006, a study was undertaken looking at a research archive on medieval properties on London's waterfront. The City of London Archaeological Trust-funded Museum of London Archaeology pilot project was intended to show how the old records, compiled by researcher Tony Dyson, could be used to map and see who occupied properties over time. The limited area chosen for detailed examination to illustrate this, fortunately, includes our site.

This map from the study shows Three Quays as the reconstructed properties (from measurements included in deeds) labelled W6 – W11. Between at least 1290 and 1424 properties W6-W8 and W10 were occupied variously by members of the le Palmere or Palmer family. Amongst other details, the medieval legal documents record their profession (when mentioned) as 'Shipwright'. Little wonder then, that we are finding so much evidence of this craft including the tools of the trade (see our last update) which may even have been used by one of the Palmers or their workers.

We are now hoping that other finds and structures from the site can be related to individual properties, their occupiers and their daily lives. From the evidence emerging from the site, it seems that at least some of the Palmers’ Roman predecessors were engaged in importing the fine Gaulish tableware known as Samian, but must have suffered a mishap, as large amounts of broken vessel fragments are being found in Roman foreshore deposits. Some have clearly been burnt so the loss of this valuable commodity may have occurred due to a fire.

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