Hidden underneath a mundane office block can be found one of London’s largest Roman remains, and it’s open for tours from next month.
The Bath House and associated town house would have been by the riverside – as it was in those times – and the layout is unusual with the bathhouse in the centre courtyard with the main building around it. It was possibly an inn or praetorium for traders and visitors to Londinium.
Squatters and other occupants are thought to have lived in the building for some decades after the Romans left England, and around 450AD, it is presumed that a Saxon woman dropped a broach by the ruins, which is the youngest artefact found on the site. As the building fell into ruin, it was covered by soil eroding off the hill behind and it vanished for 1400 years.
The Billingsgate Roman bathhouse was re-discovered in 1848, during the construction of the Coal Exchange, but not excavated properly until 1968-9, when the road was widened and the current office block built on the site.
Since then it’s sat in the basement of the office block rarely seen until a few years ago when semi-regular tours started. You will be able to walk around the bathhouse remains, see where the fire that heated the water for the bathhouse would have been and how the hypocaust worked.
The sand in the remains was coloured black for “indoor” and sandy coloured for the outside areas.
This year, 45-minute tours will run every Saturday from April to November, cost £10.19 and can be booked in advance from here.