Sunday, March 30, 2014

Digging Up Centuries of History

There is a noticeable construction boom going on at the moment in London. Every day when I walk to work down Goswell toward St Paul's, I pass four or five build sites for new high rise apartments, and there are plenty more on the developing East End.

Even right in the thick of the city, there are huge projects underway. When we first moved here, our corporate apartment was right underneath the massive construction site at 20 Fenchurch Street, known as the "Walkie Talkie". Last summer, the building became notorious as its curved facade made headlines for reflecting intense sunlight onto the street below and scorching storefronts and parked cars.

The biggest construction project underway at the moment is definitely Crossrail. It's a new Underground line that will cut straight across the center of the city, requiring miles of new tunnels and plenty of dig sites. Recently the construction hit its halfway point, yet there's a long way to go before it is due to open in 2018.

It's not uncommon to hear about construction work abruptly coming to a halt because of the discovery of ancient artifacts, which then turns the site into an archaeological dig. This week, it was announced that skeletons found during a Crossrail excavation were those of 14th Century Black Death plague victims.

Present-day London feels very modern, since it has had to rebuild itself many times following fires and wars. But it's interesting how much history can still be found just by digging below the surface.