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- Museum of London acquires ensemble inspired by the creativity of the Windrush generation
- Feeding Black: Community, Power & Place opening 16 July at Museum of London Docklands
- Museum of London acquires NHS sign from ZSL London Zoo’s Giraffe House as part of Collecting COVID
- Museum of London sites set to reopen 19 May with extensions of Dub London: Bassline of a City and Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery
- Museum of London acquires Mayor of Lambeth’s homemade ceremonial chain as part of Collecting COVID project
- Museum of London acquires ‘viral’ Tweets for Collecting COVID
- Weavers’ Company donate £100,000 to the Museum of London’s move to Smithfield
- Museum of London receives Trump Baby blimp ahead of the Presidential Inauguration
- Museum of London to collect COVID dreams
- Arsenal’s captain donates Black Lives Matter shirt to the Museum of London
- Dub London: Bassline of a City opening 2 October at the Museum of London
- Public statement October 2020
- London Sugar & Slavery gallery
- New major exhibition Havering Hoard: A Bronze Age Mystery opens 11 September at the Museum of London Docklands
- Robert Milligan statue statement
- Museum of London sites to reopen 6 August with four-week extension of The Clash: London Calling display
- Public statement
- Museum of London releases first ever recorded soundscapes of London alongside new recordings of London in lockdown as part of Collecting COVID project
- Design concepts for new museum at West Smithfield revealed
- The Museum of London collects shared experiences of Ramadan in lockdown as part of Collecting COVID project
- Unheard oral histories are released by the Museum of London to mark Windrush Day
- Collecting Covid: the Museum of London seeks to mark unprecedented pandemic for the future
- Millicent Fawcett’s ‘Steadfastness and Courage’ brooch to go on permanent display for the first time
- Museum of London submits plans to create a new world-class cultural destination in West Smithfield
- King Charles I’s execution vest to go on display in new major exhibition
- Museum of London to celebrate Dub Reggae and its influence on the capital
- East End bastion Syd’s coffee stall to be donated to the Museum of London
- Free exhibit celebrating the making of The Clash’s ground-breaking album ‘London Calling’ now open
- Museum of London acquires extremely rare plate that belonged to Samuel Pepys
- The story of the Krios of Sierra Leone to be told in the Museum of London Docklands’ latest display
- Museum of London to host The Clash: London Calling exclusive free exhibit of over 100 personal items
- The largest ever Bronze Age hoard in London has been discovered
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- Smithfield Street Party
- Museum of London hopes to acquire both the Trump Baby Blimp and the Sadiq Khan Blimp as part of their permanent collection
- Secret Rivers
- Beasts of London
- Recently acquired panorama goes on display for the first time at the Museum of London
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- Earliest skull ever mudlarked from the Thames to go on display at the Museum of London
- Museum of London acquires beautiful panorama of lost Houses of Parliament
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- Young Londoners to take over Museum of London this March
- Treasured children’s author Jacqueline Wilson’s latest book Wave Me Goodbye inspires family day at the Museum of London Docklands
- Adventures in Peter Pan’s Neverland at Museum of London Docklands
- Photography of Londoners and their pastimes on show at Museum of London
- Museum of London Docklands celebrates Chinese New Year this February half term
- Museum of London Docklands to showcase rare Roman sarcophagus in first public display
- “Reputational whitewashing” investigated in latest display at the Museum of London Docklands.
- Taste not waste: Be inspired by unique recipes using your leftover food for a more sustainable future London
- Whitechapel’s famous monster fatberg is coming to the Museum of London
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- London Visions: Hypothetical scenarios of a future London
- Rare George Cross medal goes on display at the Museum of London Docklands
- Smithfield street party: Museum of London celebrates 150 years of Smithfield markets
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- Learn how to code like a pro and celebrate digital technology at the Museum of London’s free family festival
- Votes for Women programme
- All aboard for the Maritime music festival
- New display reveals complex history of British Army’s West India Regiments
- Paddington returns to Museum of London
- Bonus Levels: Artist Lawrence Lek invites viewers to re-imagine future London
- The Museum of London hopes to acquire Whitechapel 'fatberg'
- The City is Ours: A Tale of New Cities
- Tracking London’s most talked about topics and emojis
- London Nights: Museum of London unveils the city at night in major photography exhibition
- Statement on 20 May 2017
- Malcolm Reading Consultants appointed to run West Smithfield International Design Competition
- What does the future hold for London and cities around the world?
- Museum of London releases third and final Great Fire 1666 Minecraft map
- Museum of London acquires 100 menswear items worn by townscape consultant Francis Golding
- 8,000 years of human history on display at the Museum of London Docklands
- Five Museum of London apprentices appointed
- Museum of London displays recently acquired Sutherland drawings in new exhibition of Blitz artwork
- Mayor of London and City of London Corporation pledge support for new Museum of London at West Smithfield
- Museum of London uses Minecraft to recreate the Great Fire of 1666
- Rare tools give insight into working lives of Roman Londoners at the Museum of London
- Museum of London opens most theatrical exhibition ever to mark 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London
- New display at the Museum of London traces the capital’s obsession with ice skating
- Historic vessels Knocker White and Varlet set sail to new home at Trinity Buoy Wharf
- Missing Bake Off? Take your taste buds back in time with 17th century gingerbread
- Rare Victoria Cross with mysterious story to go on display at the Museum of London
- Museum of London bolsters its art collections
- 17th century fire engine restored for Great Fire exhibition
- Museum of London boosts Great Fire collections with mysterious manuscript
- After dark at The Night Museum
- New display about the life of ‘The Royal African’ and the slave trade
- Joe Corré, Jordan and Richard Boon to appear in an uncensored, live Punk.London debate
- People of Punk bring the year of celebration to an end
- Tunnel: the archaeology of Crossrail
- New research to shed fresh light on the impact of industrialisation
- Our statement on Fabric
- Behind the Scenes of the Museum of London
- Sir Edward Lister joins Museum of London Board of Governors
- Another record-breaking year for the Museum of London
- West Smithfield International Design Competition launched
- Major new gallery at Museum of London Docklands explores history of the world's largest docks
- West Smithfield Design Competition shortlist announced
- Stanton Williams and Asif Khan to design new Museum of London at West Smithfield
Museum of London Docklands to showcase rare Roman sarcophagus in first public display
11 January 2018
New exhibition: Roman Dead will explore death and burial in ancient London
Museum of London Docklands
25th May – 28th October 2018
In 2017 a rare Roman sarcophagus was excavated from Harper Road in Southwark; a site that archaeological research has shown was part of a large Roman cemetery. Today, the Museum of London Docklands reveals that this remarkable discovery will be on display for the first time in a major new exhibition, Roman Dead, which opens on 25th May 2018.
London’s complex Roman burial landscape is an important source of historical knowledge, providing insight into Romans’ religious beliefs and their treatment of the dead. This new exhibition will investigate the cemeteries of ancient London, examining the discoveries that were made there and their context within today’s modern cityscape.
Exotic grave goods from across the Roman Empire are just some of over 200 objects on display. Highlighted are an expensive multi-coloured glass dish found with cremated remains and a jet pendant in the form of Medusa’s head, thought to protect the dead, perhaps on their journey to the Underworld. The exhibition will explore themes of cremation, inhumation and ritual as well as some unusual and sometimes disturbing burial practices. Deviant burials will include a number of men’s skulls which show signs of a violent death and were buried in pits by London Wall in the City of London.
Opening at the Museum of London Docklands, a site synonymous with London’s history, the exhibition examines important questions about death in Roman London whilst exploring the latest research into beliefs around afterlife and funerary practice.
Meriel Jeater, Curator at the Museum of London said:
“We are incredibly excited to display the Harper Road sarcophagus publically for the very first time as part of our Roman Dead exhibition. Discoveries of this kind are rare and reveal new stories and alter perspectives of our great city. We will also be displaying skeletons from the eastern parts of Roman London, and the fascinating grave goods buried with them. Visitors will be encouraged to question the evidence and join in the discussion, as we look to advance the knowledge of the city that we share with these ancient Londoners.”
Jackie Keily, Senior Curator, Prehistory and Roman, at the Museum of London, said:
“Roman Dead draws upon the Museum of London’s world renowned collection of human remains and grave goods, in particular showcasing objects that haven’t previously been displayed. Archaeology in London is a resource that keeps on producing new and exciting discoveries, such as the Harper Road sarcophagus and the wonderful glass bowl from Prescot Street. We hope our visitors will gain an insight into Roman Londoners relationship with death through these wonderful artefacts and through the expert analysis that has been undertaken on the skeletal remains recovered from ancient London.”
Key objects from the exhibition include:
● Stone sarcophagus from Harper Road, Southwark. This is the most recent Roman sarcophagus to be found in London (discovered in summer 2017). The lid of the coffin was found partly pushed to one side, indicating it might have been disturbed by grave robbers.
● Multi-coloured glass dish found in Prescot Street near Aldgate in 2009 during excavations in Roman London’s eastern cemetery. It formed part of the grave goods of a Londoner whose cremated remains had been buried in a wooden container. The dish is an extremely rare find both from Roman London and the western Roman Empire. It would have been very expensive – there are references in literature of multi-coloured bowls being worth 1000s of sesterces, at a time when a soldier may have earned just over 1000 sesterces a year.
● Jet Medusa pendant found in the burial of a woman from Hooper Street, Tower Hamlets. The woman’s skeleton has been scientifically analysed revealing she grew up in the London area. Jet was frequently used as a material for burial goods, particularly jewellery and dress accessories. It was thought to have magical properties and to protect the dead, perhaps on their journey to the Underworld.
● Tombstone of a 10 year old girl, Marciana. It was found during excavations of the City wall in 1979, which revealed that the wall was partly composed of reused monumental masonry including fragments of tombstones.
● Four skulls of men showing signs of violent death found in waterlogged pits near London Wall. The pits contained human remains, mostly skulls, of 40 people. Most of the individuals were men, aged between 18 and 35 years old. Many of their skulls showed signs of multiple blunt- and sharp-force trauma which had caused their deaths.
● A pot decorated with a human face, used as a cremation urn and found during excavations of part of the western Roman cemetery at Fetter Lane. Face pots are usually found in cemeteries or religious sites and were probably not for domestic use. A wide variety of pots were used for holding cremations. Some were everyday cooking pots but others, like this face pot, were probably specially purchased for burials.
As well as showcasing exciting artefacts from Roman London the exhibition will examine the science behind the study of ancient human remains and highlight the rites and rituals surrounding death in Roman London. Families and children will be able to engage with the displays through a range of interactive activities and events.
Notes for editors
For all press enquiries, including interviews, image requests and press trips please contact Lizzie Rowles at Flint on 020 3463 2083 or [email protected].
About The Museum of London Docklands
The Museum of London Docklands is located at West India Quay in east London. Opened in 2003, this Grade I listed converted Georgian sugar warehouse specifically tells the story of the port, river and city – focusing on trade, migration and commerce in London.
The museum is open daily 10am – 6pm and is FREE to all, and you can explore the Museum of London Docklands with collections online – home to 90,000 objects with more being added.
About the Curators
Meriel Jeater joined Museum of London in 2000 and has helped curate its archaeological collections ever since. Meriel has worked on the permanent medieval London gallery, the War, Plague and Fire gallery, and has most recently curated the Fire! Fire! exhibition about the 1666 Great Fire of London. Meriel has a BA in Archaeology and Ancient History and an MA in Museology.
Jackie Keily joined the Museum of London as a curator in 2005, having previously worked as an archaeologist. She is Senior Curator for the Roman and Prehistory collections and has curated a number of exhibitions including The Crime Museum: Uncovered and Tunnel: the Archaeology of Crossrail. In addition, she teaches on a number of university courses and has published extensively on the material culture of the past. Jackie has a BA in History and Archaeology, an MA in Museum Studies and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London.