Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Thursday 8 February 2024

More evidence of pre-Alfredan London

Work in the basement of the National Gallery has revealed more evidence of the western spread of the trading centre that was Anglo-Saxon London - Lundenwic - stretching along the foreshore represented by The Strand, and centred on Aldwych - the Old Wick or place. The Roman walled city appears to have been largely abandoned other than by the Church with the cathedral and some other churches. To the clergy the Roman association doubtless made the city attractive whereas the trading community preferred the open spaces to the west. A similar pattern has been argued from the evidence for York at least amongst ancient English cities.

The decisive change came with King Alfred’s occupation of London in 886 and with what is understood to have been his fairly dramatic approach to urban redevelopment - to force the trading community into the safety of the walled city he burned down their extra-mural habitation.

The discoveries at the National Gallery tie in with the evidence found nearby at St Martin-in-the-Fields in excavations in 2006 which clearly suggested continuity from a late Roman or post Roman church, dedicated to a fourth century saint, through to the Anglo-Saxon era.
These discoveries were reported upon by Current Archaeology at London - Current Archaeology and, in a somewhat quirky article, by the Mail Online at Have they found Saint Martin in the fields?

There is an impressive and extensive illustrated file online about London between the Roman and Norman periods from Gresham College which can be perused at greshamlec

The report by Heritage Daily on the new discoveries at the Sainsbury Wing can be seen at Traces of Saxon town found beneath London’s National Gallery

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