What The Romans Did For London
The so-called ‘Pompeii of the North’, a vast store of Roman artifacts associated with the Temple of Mithras, has been unveiled in the centre of London, in Queen Victoria Street, preserved thanks to the muddy banks of the underground river that once passed through it, the Walbrook.
The temple was first discovered in 1954, and was dug out and relocated. But over the years, the site became the subject of endless disputes; it was prime city property beside the Thames, and the race was on for archaeologists to uncover as much as they could before another glass box could be dumped on it.
Now, though, it seems the Bloomberg Group will restore the Mithraeum to its original location and open a museum in 2016. The Mithraic cult grew across the Roman Empire between the 1st and 4th centuries AD, and the temple, appropriately enough for the City of London, is dedicated to Bacchus. Over 10,000 Roman items have been recovered, including writing tablets that may give us a real taste of Roman conversation.
There are marble reliefs, amulets, statues of deities, and a beautiful tiny amber model of a gladiators helmet. In addition, whole wooden jointed houses are being dug out forty feet down.Â It’s the single most important Roman find ever made in London.
So that’s probably a cue to have a couple of jokes from ‘Plebs’.