The London Mithraeum, also known as the Temple of Mithras, Walbrook, is a Roman mithraeum that was discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during a building's construction in 1954. The entire site was relocated to permit continued construction and this temple of the mystery god Mithras became perhaps the most famous 20th-century Roman discovery in London.
The Mithraeum in 2017, in the Bloomberg Space
Shown within the City of London
|Location||12 Walbrook, London, EC4N 8AA|
The site was excavated by W. F. Grimes, director of the Museum of London, and Audrey Williams in 1954. The temple, initially hoped to have been an early Christian church, was built in the mid-3rd century and dedicated to Mithras or perhaps jointly to several deities popular among Roman soldiers. Then it was rededicated, probably to Bacchus, in the early fourth century. Found within the temple, where they had been carefully buried at the time of its rededication, were finely detailed third-century white marble likenesses of Minerva, Mercury the guide of the souls of the dead, and the syncretic gods Mithras and Serapis, imported from Italy. There were several coarser locally-made clay figurines of Venus, combing her hair. The artefacts recovered were put on display in the Museum of London.
Artefacts found in Walbrook in 1889 probably came from the Mithraeum, according to the archaeologist Ralph Merrifield, although this was not identified at the time (Merrifield 1965, p. 179). One was a marble relief, 0.53 m tall, of Mithras in the act of killing the astral bull, the Tauroctony that was as central to Mithraism as the Crucifixion is to Christianity. On it Mithras is accompanied by the two small figures of the torch-bearing celestial twins of Light and Darkness, Cautes and Cautopates, within the cosmic annual wheel of the zodiac. At the top left, outside the wheel, Sol–Helios ascends the heavens in his biga; at top right Luna descends in her chariot. The heads of two wind-gods, Boreas and Zephyros, are in the bottom corners. It bears the inscription
VLPIVS SILVANVS EMERITVS LEG II AVG VOTVM SOLVIT FACTVS ARAVSIONE
which may be translated "Ulpius Silvanus, veteran soldier of the Second Augustan Legion, in fulfilment of a vow, makes this altar [as the result of] a vision"  or "Ulpius Silvanus, veteran of the Second Legion Augusta, fulfilled his vow having become (a Mithraist) at Orange" [University of Edinburgh, Classics Department, teaching collection] (Collingwood and Wright 1965, No. 3). Nearby were buried heads of the Roman goddess Minerva and a finely detailed bearded head of Serapis, Jupiter-like in his features but securely recognizable by the grain-basket, the modius, upon his head, a token of resurrection.
An inscription dateable AD 307–310 at the site
PRO SALVTE D N CCCC ET NOB CAES DEO MITHRAE ET SOLI INVICTO AB ORIENTE AD OCCIDENTEM
may be translated "For the Salvation of our lords the four emperors and the noble Caesar, and to the god Mithras, the Invincible Sun from the east to the west" (Collingwood and Wright 1965, no. 4).
Parallel to the construction work between 2010 and 2014, Museum of London Archaeology led a team of over 50 archaeologists in further excavations of the site. Excavation recovered more than 14,000 items, including a large assembly of tools. The varied objects are thought to have been brought to the site in landfills and soils collected elsewhere and laid down to improve the marshy banks of the River Walbrook during the rebuilding of London after the Boudican revolt of AD 60 or 61.
The local waterlogged soil conditions then preserved even organic material like leather shoes and a large assembly of wooden writing tablets of which over 400 were found. The tablets originally held a layer of dark wax and messages were scratched into the wax with a stylus that revealed the paler wood underneath. The wax has perished, but the words were reconstructed from scratch marks left in the wood. Among the messages is the oldest financial document from London, dated AD 57, and two addresses from AD 62 and AD 70 containing the earliest mention of London.
The Roman temple, when it was originally built, would have stood on the east bank of the now covered-over River Walbrook, a key freshwater source in Roman Londinium. Nearby, in its former streambed, a small square hammered lead sheet was found, on which an enemy of someone named Martia Martina had inscribed her name backwards and thrown the token into the stream, in a traditional Celtic way of reaching the gods that has preserved metal tokens in rivers throughout Celtic Europe, from the swords at La Tène to Roman times. (Compare wishing well.) The temple foundations are very close to other important sites in the city of London including the historic London Stone, the Bank of England and London Wall. The original Mithraeum was built partly underground, recalling the cave of Mithras where the Mithraic epiphany took place.
The temple site was uncovered in September 1954 during excavation work for the construction of Bucklersbury House, a 14-storey modernist office block to house Legal & General. As a compromise between redesigning the new building and abandoning the archaeological site, the ruin was dismantled and moved 100 metres to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street, where in 1962 the foundations were reassembled at street level for an open-air public display. The reconstruction was not accurate and drew criticism for the materials used. An interim report on the excavation included in W. F. Grimes, The Excavation of Roman and Mediaeval London (1968) was superseded by John Shepherd, The Temple of Mithras, Walbrook (an English Heritage monograph) (1998).
In 2007 plans were drawn up to return the Mithraeum to its original location, following the demolition of Bucklersbury House and four other buildings in the block for the planned creation of a new Walbrook Square development, designed by Foster and Partners and Jean Nouvel Architects. However, redesigns and disputes between freeholders Legal & General and Metrovacesa, who had agreed to buy the project, resulted in the Walbrook Square project being put on hold in October 2008, when Bovis Lend Lease removed their project team. Metrovacesa left the project in August 2009. In May 2010 the Mithraeum remained in situ at Temple Court, though in the same month there was talk of reviving the Walbrook Square project.
The Walbrook Square project was purchased by the Bloomberg company in 2010, which decided to restore the Mithraeum to its original site as part of their new European headquarters. The new site is 7 metres (23 ft) below the modern street level, as part of an exhibition space beneath the Bloomberg building. The temple was moved a little west of its original position to preserve parts of the walls that were not uncovered in 1952–54 and are too fragile to display today.
The ruins are reconstructed as they appeared at the end of the excavation in October 1954, reflecting the first building phase of around AD 240 without any later Roman additions to the site. A large majority of the stones and bricks are original. The wood, render and lime mortar are new, but based on mortar samples from contemporary Roman London structures. The temple is displayed with a selection of artefacts found on the site.
The year 1889 in archaeology involved some significant events.1954 in archaeology
The year 1954 in archaeology involved some significant events.Bassishaw
Bassishaw is a ward in the City of London. This small ward is bounded on the east by Coleman Street ward, to the south by Cheap ward, to the north by Cripplegate ward, and on the west by Aldersgate ward. Historically, it consisted only of Basinghall Street with the courts and avenues leading from it, but since a boundary review in 2003 (after which the ward expanded into Cripplegate Within) also includes streets further west, including Aldermanbury, Wood Street, and, to the north part of London Wall and St. Alphage Garden. It was historically the City's smallest ward.Bishopsgate
Bishopsgate is one of the 25 wards of the City of London and also the name of a major road (part of the A10) between Gracechurch Street and Norton Folgate in the northeast corner of London's main financial district. Bishopsgate is named after one of the original eight gates in the London Wall. The site of this former gate is marked by a stone bishop's mitre, fixed high upon a building located at Bishopsgate's junction with Wormwood Street, by the gardens there and facing the Heron Tower.
Although tens of thousands of people commute to and work in the ward, it has a resident population of only 222 (2011).Broad Street (ward)
Broad Street is one of the 25 ancient wards of the City of London.Candlewick
Candlewick is a small ward, one of the 25 ancient wards in the City of London.
Its northern boundary runs along Lombard Street — to the north is the ward of Langbourn. Gracechurch Street forms Candlewick's eastern boundary with Bridge ward, down to the Monument to the Great Fire of London, erected to commemorate the place where the Great Fire abated. Its southern boundary curves along Arthur Street, incorporating traffic from London Bridge to its western edge along Laurence Pountney Lane, Sherbourne Lane and Abchurch Lane in Walbrook ward.
There are two churches within Candlewick, St. Mary Abchurch on Abchurch Lane and St. Clement Eastcheap on Clement's Lane, while a third, St. Michael, Crooked Lane, was demolished in 1831 to make way for the new London Bridge. There are several large stores and pubs and a hotel located in the ward. As with many City wards it has its own social club and newsletter.Monument tube station is located in the south-eastern corner of the ward.Castle Baynard
Castle Baynard is one of the 25 wards of the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London.Cheap (ward)
Cheap is a small ward in the City of London. It stretches west to east from King Edward Street, the border with Farringdon Within ward, to Old Jewry, which adjoins Walbrook; and north to south from Gresham Street, the border with Aldersgate and Bassishaw wards, to Cheapside, the boundary with Cordwainer and Bread Street wards. The name Cheap derives from the Old English word "chep" for "market".The following roads run north to south across the ward: St. Martin's Le Grand, Foster Lane, Gutter Lane, Wood Street, Milk Street, King Street, and Ironmonger Lane. Within its boundaries are two Anglican churches: St Vedast Foster Lane and St Lawrence Jewry; a third church, St Mildred, Poultry, was demolished in 1872. Several Livery Halls are located in Cheap, including those of the Mercers', Goldsmiths', Wax Chanders' and Saddlers' Companies.
A small part of the Guildhall lies within the ward's boundaries: the main entrance and main hall itself; the remainder is in Bassishaw. Also within Cheap are the Lord Mayor's and City of London Court and the southern end of Basinghall Street.Coleman Street Ward
Coleman Street is one of the 25 ancient wards of the City of London. It gives its name to a road linking Gresham Street with London Wall.Cordwainer (ward)
Cordwainer is a small, almost rectangular-shaped ward in the City of London. It is named after the cordwainers, the professional shoemakers who historically lived and worked in this particular area of London; there is a Livery Company for the trade — the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers. The ward is sometimes referred to as the "Cordwainers' ward".
It is bounded to the north by Poultry and Cheapside (the boundary with Cheap ward); to the west by the eponymous Bread Street and the ward of the same name; to the south by Cannon Street (and Vintry and Dowgate wards); and to the east by Walbrook ward and a street of the same name.
Streets within Cordwainer's boundaries are, amongst others, Bow Lane, Pancras Lane and part of Watling Street. Queen Street runs north-south through the centre of the ward.Dowgate
Dowgate is a small ward in the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London. The ward is bounded to the east by Swan Lane and Laurence Poutney Lane, to the south by the River Thames, to the west by Cousin Lane and College Hill, and to the north by Cannon Street. It is where the Walbrook watercourse emptied into the Thames.
A number of City livery companies are quartered in the ward: the Worshipful Company of Dyers, Worshipful Company of Innholders, Worshipful Company of Skinners and Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers. There is one church: St. Michael Paternoster, which houses 'The Mission to Seafarers'. The ward also contains Cannon Street station, which is on the site of a medieval steelyard, and on Upper Thames Street the only London Fire Brigade station within the City of London.Farringdon Within
Farringdon Within is one of the 25 wards of the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London. The ward covers an area from Blackfriars station in the south to Barbican station in the north.Originally known as the Ward of Anketill de Auvergne, Farringdon was named for Sir Nicholas Farindon, who was appointed Lord Mayor of London for "as long as it shall please him" by King Edward II. The ward had been virtually a political possession of the Farindon family for 82 years at the time of his appointment. His father, William Farindon, preceded him as alderman in 1281, when he, the father, purchased his position as alderman.
The father was Lord Mayor in 1281 and 1282 and also warden of the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, a City Livery Company. During the reign of King Edward I, William Farindon, as an alderman and goldsmith, was implicated in the arrest of English Jewry (some, fellow goldsmiths) for treason.The ward was split into Farringdon Without and Farringdon Within in 1394. "Without" and "Within" denote whether the ward fell outside or within the London Wall — this was also the case for the wards of Bridge Within and Without. However, since boundary changes in 2003 Farringdon Within is no longer entirely within the former wall.
The resident population of the ward is 276 (2011).Farringdon Without
Farringdon Without is a Ward in the City of London, the historic and financial centre of London. It covers the western area of the City, including the Middle Temple, Inner Temple, Chancery Lane, Smithfield and St Bartholomew's Hospital, as well as the area east of Chancery Lane.
The largest of the City's 25 Wards, it was reduced in size considerably after a boundary review in 2003. Its resident population is 1,099 (2011).List of parks and open spaces managed by the City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation owns and maintains open space in and around Greater London.
They have mainly been acquired since 1878, when two Acts of Parliament entrusted the management of Epping Forest and several other areas within a 25-mile (40 km) radius to the Corporation: these areas laid the foundation for the Green Belt in the 20th century. On dedicating the opening of Epping Forest on 6 May 1882, Queen Victoria said "It gives me the greatest satisfaction to dedicate this beautiful forest to the use and enjoyment of my people for all time."Minories
Minories (, not ) is the name of a former civil parish, also known as Minories Holy Trinity, and a street in the City of London, close to the Tower of London.National Firefighters Memorial
The National Firefighters Memorial is a memorial composed of three bronze statues depicting firefighters in action at the height of the Blitz. It is located on the Jubilee Walkway to the south of St Paul's Cathedral in the City of London, and it is approachable from the south bank of the River Thames via the Millennium Footbridge.
The monument, originally the concept of Cyril Demarne, was commissioned by the Firefighters Memorial Charitable Trust set up in 1990. It was sculpted by John W. Mills. Initially, the structure was intended as a tribute to those men and women who fought so gallantly against fire on the streets of London during the Blitz of World War II, when the city was struck by bombs on 57 consecutive nights in a sustained campaign of bombing. It also served as a monument to commemorate the service of firefighters throughout the war. Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother unveiled the memorial on 4 May 1991.
It was decided in 1998 to make the memorial a national monument that would commemorate not just the firefighters who died in World War II, but the lives of all firefighters throughout the United Kingdom who were killed in the line of duty. The National Firefighters Memorial was moved from its original site in Old Change Court, the plinth was elevated by a little over 1 m, and the names of all those killed in peacetime were added.
The Princess Royal, patron of the Firefighters' Memorial Charitable Trust, attended a service and ceremony of re-dedication on 16 September 2003. A total of 1,192 names were inscribed in bronze onto the memorial.
A service of remembrance is held at the memorial annually on the Sunday closest to 7 September, the anniversary of the start of the Blitz.Old Billingsgate Market
Old Billingsgate Market is the name given to what is now a hospitality and events venue in the City of London, based in the Victorian building that was originally Billingsgate Fish Market, the world's largest fish market in the 19th century.
The first Billingsgate Market building was constructed on Lower Thames Street in 1850 by the builder John Jay, and the fish market was moved off the streets into its new riverside building. This was demolished in around 1873 and replaced by an arcaded market hall designed by City architect Horace Jones and built by John Mowlem & Co. in 1875, the building that still stands on the site today.In 1982, the fish market itself was relocated to a new site on the Isle of Dogs in east London. The 1875 building was then refurbished by architect Richard Rogers, originally to provide office accommodation.
Now used as an events venue, it remains a major London landmark and a notable Grade II listed building.Vintry
Vintry is one of the 25 wards of the City of London. Located within it is the City end of Southwark Bridge and, adjacent to that, the hall of the Worshipful Company of Vintners, the City livery company for the wine trade.
The ward's boundary is formed by Cannon Street to the north, College Hill and Cousin Lane to the east, the River Thames to the south, and its western edge follows an unusual line along part of Little Trinity Lane, Lambeth Hill and Distaff Lane.The Christopher Wren-designed church St James Garlickhythe is within Vintry ward, near Mansion House tube station. In medieval times, French wine and garlic were landed at the nearby Garlickhythe ('garlic dock'). This circumstance led to the church being part of the route for English pilgrims travelling to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, which is sacred to the memory of St James the Great.The ward contained Whittington's Longhouse, a 128-seat public toilet gifted by Dick Whittington.Walbrook
Walbrook is a subterranean river in the City of London that gave its name to a City ward and a minor street in its vicinity.
The ward of Walbrook contains two of the City's most notable landmarks: the Bank of England and Mansion House. The street runs between Cannon Street and Bank junction, though vehicular traffic can only access it via Bucklersbury, a nearby side-road off Queen Victoria Street.