Roman amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard

Overview

Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument

List Entry Number: 1013411

Date first listed: 23-Jul-1990

Map

Ordnance survey map of Roman amphitheatre, Guildhall Yard
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Location

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County: Greater London Authority

District: City and County of the City of London (London Borough)

National Grid Reference: TQ 32478 81357

Summary

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

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.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

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 century. 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.

Legacy

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number: 13201

Legacy System: RSM

Sources

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)
Other
BM Add MSS 5415, Leake, J, Surveigh of streets, lanes & churched within ruines of Cty Londn, (1666)

End of official listing