Archaeologists are used to pondering what lies beneath their feet. Sometimes its bones, sometimes its gold, a lot of the time its just mud, but occasionally its the very same thing you’re standing on right now. No, not chewing gum, we’re talking about floors; the solid, carpeted things that keep us all from sinking down into the ten meters of ancient rubbish dumps that London is built on. Back in the Roman period, they had more than a couple of ways of making one.
Way back before Christmas a much speculated-upon group of timbers, that had been visible in section for weeks, were finally reached, and resolved themselves to be a massive planked floor.
The 5 meter by 2 meter construction was considered to be fairly substantial, and as more demolition debris was removed to the east of the floor, we realised that it continued further, eventually doubling in size to 4 meters wide.
The floor was constructed of a number of joists running across the room east-west, onto which large planks were laid, making up the floor surface.
Due to the wet conditions and the weight of the soil above them, the timber planks have deformed and sunk down in between the joists.
Other floors on site are made of a variety of materials. This recent external surface, for example, is made of fragments of broken pottery.
In the same area another surface contained pottery fragments, but rather than being a surface in themselves they were used as hardcore for a compacted gravel yard surface.
We even have a few fancy floors. Hard rock fans will remember that back in November we found and documented the removal of a tesselated floor, and since then we have even found a few small fragments of monochrome mosaic.
Floors are especially useful for us on this site, as they can be the only evidence that buildings once stood here. When buildings are demolished, walls and baseplates are often removed, but floors are not always. There were no other structural remains associated with our tesselated floor, for example. Additionally, scientific analysis of clay and earth floors and yard surfaces can provide invaluable data about local environment and the use of different areas.
So let this serve as a reminder that you could be standing on something very interesting, although perhaps only in 2,000 years time.