Headhunters in Roman London

There’s an article in the Guardian today about new analysis of a stash of human skulls excavated at London Wall in 1988 which has pointed towards the theory that they may have been collected then displayed in open pits. They date from the second century AD, which rules them out as victims of Boudicca’s rebellion.

“They come from a peculiar area by the Walbrook stream, which was a site for burials and a centre of ritual activity – but also very much in use for more mundane pursuits. We have evidence of lots of shoe making, so you have to think of the cobbler working yards from these open pits, with the dog chewing away – really not nice.”The Guardian

Shame that they later describe the Walbrook as “long vanished” – it still gurgles away beneath the tarmac and spills out into the Thames near the bottom of Dowgate Hill. You can follow its course above ground – the Walbrook is very much present.


Here’s the rest of the article

1 Comment

  1. David Williams   •  

    The Walbrook River did not flow under Walbrook or Dowgate Hill – its original course was further to the west. The Temple of Mithras is west of Walbrook but to the east of the known course of the River Walbrook. The same applies to the church of St John upon Walbrook of which there is a plaque opposite Cannon Street Station on Dowgate Hill. The west end was on Dowgate and the east end on the River Walbrook. Medieval Houses built along the west side of Walbrook overhung the Walbrook River at their rear and had latrines directly dumping into the river which had long become an open sewer. No doubt when the River was culverted in the 16th Century it was diverted to under Walbrook and Dowgate Hill – the obvious shortest and straightest route to the Thames. A brick built culvert would have had to be constructed on a different route – the river being diverted into it on completion.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.