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Archaeological finds at Olympic Park Site

TheMuseumofLondonarchaeology team has found the first evidence of the first Londoners and Romans on the Olympic Park.

Digs on the site of the London 2012 Aquatics Centre have revealed evidence of an Iron Age settlement. Fourth-century pottery and a Roman coin have also been found elsewhere on the Olympic Stadium site.

The finds will go on to form part of theMuseumofLondon’s collection and record of the archaeological investigations, which have been planned as part of the programme of work to clear the site ahead of construction.

The first Londoners lived in thatched circular mud huts on the site that will boast a Zaha Hadid designed Aquatics Centre and fished in what is now the River Lea. Parts of the pots they would have used to cook their fish have also been discovered. The river is currently being widened by 8 metres as part of a programme to restore the ancient waterways of theLowerLeaValley.

The Roman Coin and pottery were found buried behind a wooden river wall that may have been built and used by the Romans. The coin has been dated AD 330-335 the time of the Roman emperor Constantine II.

The archaeologists are currently dating the woodwork and trying to establish how the finds link to evidence of Roman activity in the Hackney Wick area, which would have overlooked theLeaValleyin the 4th century. This is the first evidence for Roman activity associated with the rivers of the valley itself.

ODA Chief Executive David Higgins said:

"We are taking this opportunity to tell the fascinating story of the lowerLeaValleybefore it is given a new lease of life for the Games and future generations. It is a story of change and transformation dating back centuries. The archaeological work has been long planned in conjunction with our programme and will not cause any delays."

The ODA has invitedMuseumofLondonarchaeologists and Pre-Construct Archaeology (MoLAS-PCA) to look for evidence of the original prehistoric Londoners right through to Roman, Viking, medieval and relatively recent industrial and military activities on the Olympic Park site. They are also charting the topography of the site to build a picture of how the land and waterways have developed and how climate change has affected the area.

Trenches are being dug and investigated on the sites of the permanent venues and infrastructure. Interesting remains will either be photographed and recorded or removed to form part of theMuseumofLondon’s collection. The archaeological research is interlinked with work preparing for construction and shows that nothing of national importance requiring preservation on site is expected to be found.

Olympic Park timeline:

- 3000BC:wetlands which the early Londoners navigated by timber walkways to fish and hunt.

- 50AD:the Roman road ‘Ermine Street’ fromLondontoColchestercrossed marshes

- Late 9th century– King Alfred reputedly dug Channelsea river to divert invading Vikings from theThameson their way toLondon

- 1110:The first stone arch ‘bow’ bridge inBritain, gave the area its name

- 1135:Cistercian Abbey exploited Lea water power

- Late 12th century:Knights Templar water mill (TempleMills)

- 17th/18th century:UK’s first calico printer and porcelain factory

- 1892:UK’s first petrol factory.

- 1858:The Northern Outfall Sewer constructed

- 1860:Plastic invented in theLeaValley.

- 1876:Dry cleaning introduced to theUK.

- 1904:William Yardley cosmetics, soap and lavender factory

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