London Urban Archaeological Database Project

The London Urban Archaeological Database (LUAD) project is establishing a comprehensive database of archaeological evidence for historic inner London that will enhance the Greater London Historic Environment Record (GLHER).

Protecting archaeology across 2,000 years

The City of London with Westminster and Southwark have been at the centre of English population, government and commerce for 2,000 years. Occupying a gateway into the British Isles, what is now inner London was successively the capital of Roman Britannia, an Anglo-Saxon trading emporium, the principal town of the Kingdom of England, an imperial capital and world city.

Despite episodes of destruction, many historic buildings and places survive. Below them, the intensive occupation created a great build-up of urban archaeological deposits of international significance.

Enhanced evidence base to inform decisions

Major development proposals pose a significant threat to this archaeological resource. The LUAD aims to raise awareness of the capital’s archaeology by providing a high-quality evidence base to inform development design and decision-making.

By combining the results of many individually small-scale and piece-meal investigations the LUAD will enable archaeology to contribute more towards understanding and valuing this unique place.

Added to the GLHER in stages

The LUAD project is an enhancement to the Greater London Historic Environment Record for historic inner London, encompassing the 17th-century built-up area and its immediate environs that were encircled by fortifications during the English Civil War.

The LUAD is being commissioned in stages by Historic England:

  • A pilot study (stage 1), was completed by Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) in 2013
  • Stage 2 completed by MOLA in 2017 provided detailed Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping of archaeological investigations across the whole LUAD area conducted up to 31 March 2013
  • Stage 3a completed by Essex Place Service (EPS) in 2021 focussed on the medieval core of Westminster and Whitehall, mapping expected survival and using the new London Characterisation Thesaurus to illustrate time depth
  • In another project, archaeological consultants Mills Whipp are clarifying the location, form and survival of the English Civil War defences from historical and archaeological sources
  • Subsequent stages of the LUAD and other strategic projects will aim to expand coverage of the LUAD methodology.

LUAD data and reports now available

GIS shapefiles

Data typeScopeCoverage and format
Archaeological investigations

Location and extent of previous archaeological investigations.

Covers both ‘sites’ investigated and specific ‘trenches’ opened.

Whole LUAD area

GIS polygons

Methodology follows MOLA, 2017

Archaeology survival model

Impact of modern land uses on survival of archaeological remains.

Depth of modern made-ground and potential for waterlogged remains.

Historic Westminster and Whitehall only

GIS polygons

Methodology follows EPS, 2021

Historic maps

John Rocque’s map of 1745

Horwood’s Plan of 1792-9

Newcourt and Fairthorne’s map of 1658

Cruchley’s map of 1827

Greenwood’s map of 1828

Morgan’s map of 1682

Historic Westminster and Whitehall only

Geo-referenced raster images

Topographical modelContour model of buried natural topography

Historic Westminster and Whitehall only

GIS polygons

Methodology Based on the London’s lost River: the Tyburn project by MOLA (2018)

Historic character maps by period

Interpretative maps provide a model of current understanding of land use from the Neolithic to the present classified using the London Characterisation Thesaurus.

There are six epochs sub-divided into periods.

Historic Westminster and Whitehall only

GIS polygons in six shapefiles

Methodology follows EPS, 2021

Archaeology sensitivity mapUsing the above datasets this map refines the Archaeological Priority Areas to provide more refined zoning of archaeological potential, significance and vulnerability.

Historic Westminster and Whitehall only

GIS polygons

Methodology follows EPS, 2021

Reports on Westminster and Whitehall Urban Archaeological Database