Monday, August 01, 2016

ARCHAEOLOGY - London, Over and Under Ground

"London skyline rising but the history below ground is far more fascinating" PBS NewsHour 7/29/2016


SUMMARY:  Where once stood a 16th Century theater that first staged Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, a new London complex, including a 37-story residential tower, is rising.  As the skyline changes at a head-spinning clip, archaeologists, by law, are digging down, uncovering fascinating artifacts.  The theater excavation will be part of the new development, aptly called, “The Stage.”  Jeffrey Brown reports.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  Along London's famous skyline, cranes and towers of all kinds, and hundreds more under construction or in the planning stages.

The recent Brexit vote may raise new questions about the future, but there's no question this city has been going through an unprecedented reshaping.

Financial Times architecture critic Edwin Heathcote.

EDWIN HEATHCOTE, Financial Times:  In the center of the city, there's never been anything on this scale.  And when I say never, I mean, really, there never has been anything on this scale.  So, even after the Great Fire of London, things were only rebuilt to five or six stories.

JEFFREY BROWN:  When you say never, you mean — because there's a lot of history here.

EDWIN HEATHCOTE:  A lot of history.

JEFFREY BROWN:  You mean never.

EDWIN HEATHCOTE:  I mean never.


JEFFREY BROWN:  In this global financial capital, property prices have skyrocketed, along with the demand to build, and there's no place to go but up.

While Heathcote sees individual buildings he likes, he worries about the larger picture.

EDWIN HEATHCOTE:  Now we have a much more generic, much more globalized city, in which the architecture is much more like Chicago or Singapore.

And so it is changing in the texture and the architectural language and the materials and the scale.

JEFFREY BROWN:  But even as this city's future grows skyward, another part of London's story, its past, is being explored in a very different direction, below ground.

HEATHER KNIGHT, Archaeologist, Museum of London:  If we were standing here on, say, a lovely summer's afternoon in the 1590s, we'd actually be standing on the stage of the Curtain Playhouse.

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