Middle Saxon London: excavations at the Royal Opera House 1989–99


Gordon Malcolm, David Bowsher, Robert Cowie


This publication presents new evidence of fundamental importance to understanding the Middle Saxon settlement of Lundenwic, a flourishing centre for trade and manufacture from the 7th to 9th centuries AD. The 1996 redevelopment of the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden included the largest excavation yet undertaken in the area of Lundenwic, providing a wealth of information about the settlement, its inhabitants, and their occupations and daily lives. Lundenwic’s heyday was in the mid 8th century, when a main road, side streets and dozens of buildings occupied the site. Craftsmen traded year-round and enjoyed a rich material culture. The 9th century saw a decline in population and economic activity. A defensive ditch was dug across the northern part of the site, and a hoard of Northumbrian stycas buried in the berm. The ditch was probably a response to Viking attacks, and shows that the defended area was reduced. These defences failed. Lundenwic was occupied by a Viking army in AD 871 and Anglo-Saxon occupation relocated to the city of London, known as Lundenburh.

Monograph Series 15

MoLAS, London 2003. ISBN 1-901992-32-2. Pb359pp. 180 bl/wh and col ills.


"This splendid monograph … gives us a volume which is appropriate for the specialist, student and lay reader all at once. It is a remarkable achievement and deserves both congratulations and, given its reasonable price, sales."
Brian Ayers in Transactions of the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 2003

"This volume makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the economic and social life of the extra-mural settlement of London, and adds considerably to current knowledge of major trading ports and urban settlements during the middle Anglo-Saxon period."
John Baker in Journal of the English Place-Name Society 2004