The upper Walbrook valley cemetery of Roman London: excavations at Finsbury Circus, City of London, 1987–2007


Chiz Harward, Natasha Powers and Sadie Watson


The unusual quantity of skulls found in the sediments of the Roman Walbrook stream in London has been attributed to a range of causes, from the disposal of massacre victims to the continuity of a largely imagined pre-Roman ‘cult of the head’. Excavations in Finsbury Circus offer a more prosaic explanation. Here, a cemetery occupied marginal land where human remains, particularly skulls, were frequently exposed and washed out, to be transported by floods, migrating Walbrook tributaries and drainage channels. This disturbance would have been plain to see yet formal burials continued to be made, suggesting the watershed area held particular significance for those using the cemetery or that their choice of burial location was restricted.

MOLA Monograph Series 69

MOLA 2015 ISBN 978-1-907586-25-5 Hb 210pp 141 bl/wh and col ills


... this report is a model of lucidity and presentation, accessible to a broad readership ... an articulate, well-presented and valuable contribution to the study of Roman cemeteries in London and issues of Roman death and burial more generally.
Peter Clark in Transactions London and Middlesex Archaeological Society 2016

This handsome monograph has all the high production values that we have come to expect from MOLA. The presentation of the evidence is flawless, the well-edited text supported by carefully cross-referenced phase plans, drawings, and photographs, all backed up by detailed specialist reports and a full index. I would certainly recommend it to anyone interested in London’s Roman cemeteries.
Peter Rowsome in London Archaeologist 2017