Beliz Tecirli, Assistant Contract Manager at Museum of London Archaeology, talks about the recent site visits for schools and local residents which she helped to organise at Crossrail’s Stepney Green site.
Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA), together with Crossrail, hosted a series of site visits for schools and other local residents to view the important archaeological work taking place at our Stepney Green site before construction begins to build a ventilation shaft for the Crossrail tunnels. The aim of these visits was to engage the local community in the history of their local area and to promote the archaeology and the modern development (by Crossrail) currently taking place.
The school visits, which ran between 25th and 28th January, welcomed pupils from six nearby schools. Pupils enjoyed a ‘dig box’ activity with our archaeologists Heather Knight, Sam Pfizenmaier, Tom Hoyle and Victoria Stanfield, where they dug the remains of Roman and medieval structures and worked out what they had found and how to record it. The digging was followed by a site tour led by David Sankey, Senior Archaeologist responsible for the site investigations.
The children were kitted up in Personal Protective Equipment just like archaeologists, and toured the site with Dave, who showed them what the archaeologists had found so far, and explained the significance of Stepney Green in the larger national history. The tour included the remains of a courtyard house built in the late 1400s or early 1500s. Amongst them are the foundations of King John’s Tower, a defended gatehouse of a type built during the Wars of the Roses, which remained standing on site until the 19th century (lending its name to King John Street).
Parliament confiscated the house from the Catholic 1st Marquess of Worcester because he funded Charles I during the Civil War. At least parts of it were occupied by Nonconformist Protestant ministers in the later 17th century, and the remains of a Congregational Church (still standing) descend from their meeting house. By degrees, the main house was converted to a Baptist College, and parts of the college’s chapel still stand.
On the Saturday following the school visits, the site tours were enjoyed by members of the public. St Dunstan’s Church, located close to the site, kindly offered their hall space for an exhibition of finds from the site. Our archaeologist, Victoria, greeted visitors dressed in 17th-century costume, and was there along with other MOLA staff – Elaine Eastbury, Mike Tetreau and Amy Chambers – to answer questions regarding the history of the objects on display.
Public participation is very important for us at MOLA, and opportunities like this give us the chance to share our findings with local communities. Our site visits received great reviews in the Metro, on ITV London and in the East London Advertiser.
- Beliz Tecirli, event organiser