Roman amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard
- Heritage Category:
- Scheduled Monument
- List Entry Number:
- Date first listed:
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This copy shows the entry on 19-Oct-2019 at 07:56:28.
The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
- Greater London Authority
- City and County of the City of London (London Borough)
- National Grid Reference:
- TQ 32478 81357
Reasons for Designation
Roman amphitheatres are rare monuments in Britain, there being only twelve known examples. This example is of particular importance because of its association with the Roman provincial capital of Londinium, a factor reflected in its size. The site would have provided the main focus of entertainment within the capital, the provision of which was seen as one of the marks of Roman civilised life. Additionally, it is unusual in that it is located inside the later walled defences of Londinium and also close to the fort. It is one of only five of Britain's amphitheatres to show a military rather than civilian connection this way. The excavations on the site have demonstrated that archaeological remains survive well and extensively. In particular, the waterlogged conditions have led to the excellent preservation of timber and other normally perishable remains. This has given an insight into structural details not normally preserved.
The monument is an elliptical amphitheatre, c.105m long and 85m wide,
externally sealed beneath Guildhall Yard and its surrounding buildings.
Although located beneath these later buildings, its extent and general ground
plan can be discerned from its effect on the topography of this area of the
city, in particular whose streets established in the 10th and 11th centuries
have obviously been routed to avoid it. Moreover, an area corresponding to
the centre of the arena has been kept an open space since at least the 14th
Partial excavations by the Museum of London in 1951, 1985 and 1987-8 have
provided much detail on the structural form of the monument. Of particular
note is the preservation of timber remains as this was a major material used
in the original construction. The degree of preservation is such that many
fine details of construction, which would not normally survive on a 'dry' site
have been investigated and recorded. Features revealed include an outer wall
retaining the seating banks, the inner arena wall and the arena itself, an
east entrance with two side-chambers likely to have been shrines or changing
rooms, a porch, plank-lined drains and sumps, timber thresholds and a piled
structure round the inside of the arena wall. This work has indicated that
the site was in use between the early 2nd century and c.AD360. By the late
4th century, however, stone was being robbed from the site suggesting it had
fallen out of use. After a period of neglect, building began on the site in
the early Medieval period and has continued down to the present day.
All buildings on the site are excluded from this scheduling although the
ground beneath them is included. Additionally all roads within the proposed
constraint area are excluded, but the remains beneath them are included.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract. It includes a 5 metre boundary around the archaeological features, considered to be essential for the monument's support and preservation.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
- Legacy System number:
- Legacy System:
Books and journals
Barron, C, The Medieval Guildhall of London, (1974)
Hobley, B, The Guildhall Roman Amphitheatre, (1988)
'Britannia' in Guildhall Yard (Roman Britain in 1987), , Vol. XIX, (1988)
Bateman, N, 'London Archaeologist' in Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard (excavation round-up 1987), , Vol. 5, (1988)
Maloney, J, 'London Illustrated News' in Fun and Games in Roman London, (1988)
BM Add MSS 5415, Leake, J, Surveigh of streets, lanes & churched within ruines of Cty Londn, (1666)
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing