The most complete Roman mausoleum in the UK was recently discovered in south London.
At a dig site in Liberty of Southwark, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) uncovered a mausoleum that is quite unusual. The mausoleum was grand, standing two stories high, and most likely was a burial for a wealthy family.
According to MOLA senior archaeologist Antonietta Lerz, the Southwark site represents Roman London’s evolution as a town over time, from a bustling marketplace filled with grand Roman structures to a somber cemetery.
The Guardian reports that the mausoleum is decorated with a mosaic on its floor, and there is an elevated platform adjacent to the mosaic, which was most likely utilized for burials. Additionally, there is a set of stairs that has been preserved.
No coffins or human bones were discovered, but researchers did find scrap metal, pottery pieces, roofing tiles, and about 100 coins at the mausoleum site. Archaeologists have found evidence of two distinct periods at the site. They think a second layer underneath the first mosaic indicates two stories in the building. Both mosaics have a flower in their centers.
Thanks to its remarkable preservation, the Roman tomb unearthed by MOLA researchers is Britain’s best-preserved. All signs point to the fact that this structure was of great importance.
According to Lerz, it provides a unique window into the culture and daily routines of the Romans who formerly inhabited this part of the city.
The Liberty of Southwark building is being demolished for a mixed-use retail and residential complex. A local councilman, however, told The Guardian that any finds made at the site would be preserved and put on display.
Southwark council member Catherine Rose said the rediscovered Roman tomb and mosaics prove the area’s rich past.