The 2016 Delivering the Past display explored the history beneath the site of the former General Post Office near Newgate Street, a stone’s throw away from the Museum of London. We uncovered more than 3000 years of human history, from prehistory to the Second World War, but let's focus on the Londoners of the 11th & 12th centuries.
Archaeologists excavating the site of the General Post Office in 1974 came face to face with these medieval Londoners when the remains of 234 people were discovered. These were bodies from the graveyard of St. Nicholas Shambles. This
small parish church was built in the early 11th century and expanded
several times before it was demolished in 1552. The graves all date to the 11th
and 12th centuries.
graveyard is really significant as it was the first to be excavated on a large
scale within the City of London, and under significant time pressure. The General Post Office site was destined to be the home of the new BT Centre, and there was only a limited time to investigate and record the ground before construction was scheduled to begin. For this 'development-led' archaeology, diggers had to quickly develop new
ways of recording the mass graves in sufficient detail. Recording sheets specifically for skeletons
were developed. These standardised how archaeologists working across the site
were describing and recording what they found, allowing for better comparisons
to be made later on.