UK news in brief: a Roman wall and a virtual roundhouse

A round-up of some of the latest archaeology news from across the UK

London’s ‘other’ Roman city wall listed

Three sections of what has been called London’s ‘other’ Roman city wall, which ran along the riverbank before connecting with its terrestrial counterparts, have been recently added to the National Heritage List for England as scheduled monuments.

Image Credit: MOLA

This riverside wall was built in the 3rd century and effectively blocked the city’s connection to the quayside, suggesting that at the time defence was more important than river trade. While most of the wall has been destroyed in the intervening centuries, three sections were found and recorded during archaeological investigations by MOLA in 2006-2016. Well-preserved wooden parts of the Roman and medieval wharfs and quays were also discovered, and have been included in the new designation; all of these structures have now been preserved in situ.

Damage to heritage sites

Recently, there have been some serious reports of destruction of some of our national heritage sites. In April, several large holes were found at Gosbecks Archaeological Park in Colchester, Essex – a scheduled Iron Age and Roman site that includes a theatre as well as a Romano-Celtic temple – suggesting that illegal metal-detecting, or ‘night-hawking’, had taken place there. Colchester City Council is now working with Essex Police to provide more patrols of the park.

Also in April, Linlithgow Palace in West Lothian was vandalised, with several walls and flagstone floors defaced with spray paint as well as some physical damage to the ornate fountain, which was built for James V in 1538. Historic Environment Scotland is now working to remove the paint and limit the damage, while Police Scotland investigates the incident.

Virtual-reality roundhouse

MOLA’s creative team are constructing a virtual roundhouse, based on one found during their excavations in advance of the proposed A428 Black Cat to Caxton Gibbet improvement scheme (see CA 385).

Since roundhouses are typically only represented in the ground by their postholes, MOLA hopes to bring the past to life through this VR experience, which will allow groups to explore an Iron Age dwelling, complete with 3D models of pottery and other objects found during the excavations. This will allow different communities to be able to engage with the archaeology as well as to ‘handle’ the artefacts. The product is currently being tested in communities along the route of the A428 but will hopefully be available to the general public in due course.