Crossrail archaeologists uncover Neolithic tool factory in east London

11:59 08 August 2013

A flint tool found at North Woolwich Crossrail site

A flint tool found at North Woolwich Crossrail site

Crossrail/Mike Tunnicliffe

Rare evidence of humans living by the Thames 9,000 years ago has been uncovered by Crossrail archaeologists in east London.

Roman horseshoe found at Liverpool St Crossrail siteRoman horseshoe found at Liverpool St Crossrail site

The discovery of a Mesolithic tool-making factory which included 150 pieces of flint, among them blades, were found at Crossrail’s tunnelling worksite in North Woolwich.

Archaeologists believe prehistoric Londoners were using the site to test and prepare river cobbles to make flint tools.

“This unique find reveals evidence of humans returning to Britain and in particular the Thames after a long absence during the Ice Age,” said Crossrail lead archaeologist Jay Carve.

“It is one of a handful of archaeology sites uncovered that confirms humans lived along the Thames at this time.

Gold coin pendant found at Liverpool St Crossrail siteGold coin pendant found at Liverpool St Crossrail site

“The concentration of flint pieces shows this was an exceptionally important location for materials to make tools that were used by early inhabitants of London.”

Archaeologists have also discovered their first piece of gold in the £16 billion Crossrail construction project, a 16th century coin used as a pendent which has been found at the Liverpool Street site.

They previously uncovered human remains at the same site in 2011 from a 17th century cemetery attached to Bedlam Hospital and from earlier Roman burial grounds.

An exceptionally well made Roman road has been unearthed where a strange find of human bone in the foundations has surprised archaeologists. Roman horse shoes have also been found.

The bone is suspected to have come from a nearby Roman cemetery and was found in the layers of rammed earth, clay and brushwood used for the foundations of the road.

The archaeologists are hoping to uncover more of the road when Crossrail starts large-scale excavations to remove 3,000 skeletons from the 17th Century burial ground next year, along with foundations of Roman buildings that stood alongside it.

Craftsmen appeared to have used burial grounds for fly-tipping during the 1600s, providing archaeologists today with a unique understanding of how east London manufacturers made expensive goods for the wealthy.

The finds include rare and exotic tortoise shell and elephant teeth used to make expensive fans for London’s wealthy.

Latest News Stories

Yesterday, 17:57
MP Jim Fitzpatrick throws switch to light up Chrisp Street Christmas tree [photos: Rehan Jamil]

MP Jim Fitzpatrick slipped away from Westminster to switch on a Christmas Tree for hundreds of kids in London’s East End.

Yesterday, 16:23
Rifles Brigade honour Alfred Drake, VC, with military salute

A memorial has been unveiled to an unsung hero from London’s East End who received the Victoria Cross the day he was killed saving an officer under fire on the Western Front 100 years ago.

Yesterday, 13:20
Man charged with Bow Creek murder

A man has appeared in court today charged with the murder of a homeless rough sleeper in east London whose body was discovered in the Bow Creek.

Yesterday, 08:57
Marsh Wall gets makeover to cope with Isle of Dogs utility demands

Extensive road renovations are nearing completion to a major thoroughfare in east London linking Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs.

Mon, 18:11
MP Rushanara Ali plants tree to commemorate Edith Ramsay (inset)

A new tree marks the life of Edith Ramsay, the charismatic social campaigner who organised children’s wartime evacuations away from air-raid danger and later campaigned to take prostitutes of the streets of London’s East End.

The tree was planted at the reopening of Stepney’s Edith Ramsay sheltered housing complex by MP Rushanara Ali on Friday.

Mon, 11:53
Barrie Stradling at Headway East London's brain recovery centre, ready for charity's dance marathon

Soul artist Barrie Stradling had to learn to sing again after a hit-and-run road incident nine years ago.

But now the 57-year-old who has been volunteering with Headway East London brain injury centre is to perform at the charity’s annual eight-hour dance marathon.

Sunday, November 29, 2015
Police are appealing for information

A murder probe is underway after the body of a young man was found in east London.

Saturday, November 28, 2015
Langdon Park pupil gets help from business mentor to win Dragon's Den challenge [photos: Tony Hussey]

A team of 14-year-olds have come up with an enterprising scheme to hire out stationery items and equipment to pupils who forget to bring them to school and get detention.

The novel idea has won a Year 9 team from Poplar’s Langdon Park Secondary in London’s East End £250 to set up their enterprise.

Most read news


Win a beautiful monochrome tunic dress with Great British Life!

Great British Life is offering a beautiful monochrome silk tunic dress worth £179 to one lucky reader

Nike Trainers

Nike’s motto is ‘to bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world.’ With this in mind it’s no surprise why Nike is the preferred training gear for most A-list athletes. Get an extra boost in your run or height in your jump with £500 to spend on Nike trainers.

Digital Edition

Read the Docklands and East London Advertiser e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24

Local business directory

Our trusted business finder