Archaeology South-East


Whitechapel Central: A Large, Multi-Period site in London

1 October 2019

We completed fieldwork on the very exciting Whitechapel Central site in the summer, and now the post-excavation process is beginning! What did we found out on site, and what are the key questions we hope to answer?

Timber structure at Whitechapel

Whitechapel Central is a large, multi-period site located within a Tier 2 Archaeological Priority Area for Mile End as defined by Historic England. Mount Anvil commissioned Archaeology South-East to undertake archaeological work in advance of housing development, and after months out on site it's time to start our analysis!

A large timber structure was uncovered within one of our excavation areas (above). We want to find out what date it is, what type of timber was used in its construction, and crucially its purpose. There's a chance that this structure could be part of the Red Lion Playhouse, the earliest known purpose-built theatre in England after the Roman period. If so, this would be very exciting indeed! But we're still working on it - thus far the evidence is inconclusive.

Our excavations also uncovered what looks to be a prehistoric settlement. This is unusual for this part of London and potentially very significant. The post excavation work will try to find out as much about this settlement as possible including when it was founded and what kind of activities went on there.

Aerial view of the Prehistoric Settlement

Excavation in the north-east of the site discovered a large wall, potentially of medieval date, quite far down in the stratigraphic sequence. The form and purpose of this wall is currently obscure. Hopefully it will become better understood during the course of our post-ex programme.  Documentary research will be undertaken to see if it relates to a particular building from antiquity.

A fragment of potentially medieval wall

We'll be posting regular updates about Whitechapel Central as our investigations continue. You can follow along using the hashtag #SceneSettingE1 on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, visit Mount Anvil’s archaeology page, or view all our updates by searching for "Whitechapel Central" here.