The eastern cemetery of Roman London: excavations 1983-1990

Bruno Barber, David Bowsher, 2009

Data copyright © Museum of London Archaeology unless otherwise stated

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David Bowsher
Director of Research
Museum of London Archaeology
Mortimer Wheeler House
46 Eagle Wharf Road
N1 7ED
Tel: 020 7410 2285

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Bruno Barber, David Bowsher (2009) The eastern cemetery of Roman London: excavations 1983-1990 [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


The project was designed to publish results from archaeological excavations conducted between 1983 and 1990 at different sites within an area covering about 12ha in the modern London Borough of Tower Hamlets, to the east of the City of London. A large Roman cemetery, or series of cemeteries produced 136 cremation burials and 550 inhumation burials, together with a further 165 features identified as disturbed burials, but without surviving human remains. In addition to significant data on burial and funerary practice and the human skeletal assemblage, there were important artefactual, botanical and faunal assemblages.

Contents of the digital archive

The full paper and digital archives, and most of the finds from the project are publicly accessible in the archive of the Museum of London, and can be consulted by prior arrangement with the Archive Manager at the London Archaeological Archive and Research Centre (LAARC), Mortimer Wheeler House, 46 Eagle Wharf Road, London N1 7ED ( The human bone assemblage (with the exception of WTN84 which was reburied) is accessible to researchers in good standing by prior application to the Senior Curator of Human Osteology at the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology (CHB), Museum of London, 150 London Wall, London EC2Y 5HN (

Although the post-excavation project was not designed with digital dissemination in mind, the published report and important parts of the digital archive are being made available through ADS as part of the English Heritage Rescue of Complete Archaeological Projects (RECAP) to ensure continued access for researchers, particularly those not based in London.

  • Barber, B, and Bowsher, D, 2000 The Eastern Cemetery of Roman London: Excavations 1983-1990, MoLAS monograph 4
  • Stratigraphic reports: a list of sites included in the publication project, recovered reports for each individual site, the original Level III archive report (or equivalent) and site summary. These are historic reports, superseded by the analysis and publication programme, but containing useful contextual information.
  • Post-excavation project design (October 1993)
  • Finds reports
  • Environmental reports
  • Human bone reports
  • Matrix files (comma separated lists of principal relationships at burial/group/subgroup level)

Note that many of these reports refer to a historic name of the project: Roman London Eastern Cemetery (RLEC). Also some are converted from old file formats and may have lost original formatting.

Site plans
  • For each individual site, an AutoCAD drawing giving the site plan and feature outlines
  • A single AutoCAD drawing shows the derivation of the conjecture for the cemetery road
  • A document file listing the main drawing conventions

Most cemetery data tables were originally recorded in the MoLAS Oracle relational database. Most of these tables were transferred as .LST files (simple text files with the pipe separator "|"). This is how the Museum of London makes osteological information available over the web from the Centre for Human Bioarchaeology site. Assessment level animal bone, sample processing data and all botanical remains were recorded on a UNIX system (Informix) and supplied as .tab files. Separate data tables were created for each site code. All files have been presented on the ADS site as comma separated values (.csv).

Available metadata is provided for all Oracle derived database tables. Metadata for the Informix database is provided in the form of a draft LAARC document informix_documentation_guide.

Cremated human bone was recorded in separate tables included under documents\human_bone_reports.
Although selected pottery data was included in the Oracle data tables, separate files are provided giving dating by context and fabric data.

Note that the inhumed human bone database presented here is that produced by Jan Conheeney during the preparation of the published report. The inhumed human bone assemblage is currently (March 2009) being re-analysed and recorded as part of its transfer to the CHB (see above). The new database will be made available for download from the CHB when work is complete.

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