Remains Roman mausoleum, the most intact ever discovered in Britain were found in London. A team from the Museum of London Archeology (MOLA) made a discovery near London Bridge in Southwark, the site of a new mixed-use development, where the largest Roman mosaic found in London in over 50 years was discovered in February 2022.
The walls of the mausoleum were dismantled, probably recycled for building materials in the Middle Ages, but the foundations of the walls and internal ceilings have been preserved. When it was intact, the structure was very solid, with large buttresses in the corner, which are believed to have supported the second floor. The first steps of the entrance have also been preserved.
The mosaic floor is surrounded on three sides by a raised platform of opus signinum (a waterproof form of concrete with broken pottery, tiles and bricks used as fill). Parallel to the outer walls, the platform is where the bodies in the mausoleum were originally supposed to be buried. (No human remains have been found.)
The mausoleum was rebuilt several times during its existence. In particular, the floor was raised. Archaeologists have discovered a second mosaic directly below the first they found, indicating that a new floor had been built on top of the first one and the mosaic had been redone. Both mosaics are similar in motif. They have a central flower surrounded by concentric circles with a square border. Tesserae are mostly black and white with some red accents on the central flower. Around the outside there is a decorative mosaic, the floor is tiled with red tiles. The newer mosaic is a smaller square, and the mosaic in the bottom layer extends to the corners where the bed bases begin.
The mausoleum would have been used by the wealthier members of Roman society. It may have been a family tomb, or perhaps it belonged to a funeral club whose members paid a monthly fee to be buried inside.
Archaeologists have not found any of the coffins or burials that were originally located inside the mausoleum. However, more than 100 coins were found, as well as several pieces of metal, fragments of pottery and roof tiles. In addition, more than 80 Roman burials were found in the area immediately surrounding the mausoleum, among which were personal items such as copper bracelets, glass beads, coins, pottery and even a bone comb.
The mausoleum was digitally scanned and a 3D model created. The remains will remain in place and the developers will work with archaeologists to develop a way to show them to the public.