‘Roman Southwark’s Ritual Landscape’ by Victoria Ridgeway

At The Urban Sacred in Southwark conference on 20 April 2016, Victoria Ridgeway (Pre-Construct Archaeology; Newcastle University) examined archaeological evidence for the ritual landscape of Roman Southwark, focussing on evidence of the sacred in both the formal and domestic spheres. Her paper explored the relationship of ritual foci to both the natural and urban landscape, looking at evidence for processional routes, deposition practices, formal temples, areas of burial and the rituals associated with the dead.

Download Victoria’s paperRoman Southwark’s Ritual Landscape; a study of sacred places in a Roman urban environment (pdf).

Victoria Ridgeway
Pre-Construct Archaeology: vridgeway@pre-construct.com
Newcastle University: Victoria.ridgeway@newcastle.ac.uk

Some highlights:

Sites in Southwark_28-04-16
© Pre-Construct Archaeology

Water is key to understanding Roman Southwark. The topography of the area was very different from what we see today. This figure shows the topography of north Southwark around AD50, a low-lying expanse of sandy riverine islands, or eyots, interspersed with braided channels, now buried deep beneath alluvial clays. Orange areas denote approximate extent of burial grounds.


Tabard view 2
By Chris Mitchell. © Pre-Construct Archaeology

Artist’s impression of a temple complex, on reclaimed land at the edge of the settlement, at a road junction and close to the crossing point onto the southern island as it may have appeared in the third century, looking south-east.


Tabard view 1
By Chris Mitchell. © Pre-Construct Archaeology

The northern temple at Tabard Square reconstructed with a colonnaded ambulatory and small, unglazed windows. The sacrifice of a ram, pig and bull, the suovetaurilia, is depicted here, based on analogies with sculptures depicting such scenes.


lant Street knife
© Pre-Construct Archaeology

Folding knife with ivory handle, in the form of a panther, one of the grave goods accompanying the burial of a teenage woman at Lant Street.


LLS02 foot
© Pre-Construct Archaeology

Bronze foot from a larger-than-life-size statue, Tabard Square.


LLS02 inscription
© Pre-Construct Archaeology

Dedicatory inscription, placed in the base of a pit, Tabard Square. This tells us that at least part of the temple complex was dedicated to Mars Camulus (linking Roman and Celtic gods) and was put up by a trader or traveller from northern France.


LLS02 punctured pots 2
© Pre-Construct Archaeology

Complete vessels, pierced after firing, have been found in wells and ditches across Southwark. The deliberate puncturing has been interpreted as decommissioning, or ritual killing, prior to deposition into water.


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