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Molas Archaeology Studies #23: Medieval Settlement to 18th-/19th-Century Rookery: Excavations at Central Saint Giles, London Borough of Camden, 2006-8by Sian Anthony
Synopses & Reviews
Excavations in 2006-8 by Museum of London Archaeology on the site of St Giles Court, on the north side of St Giles High Street, Camden, illustrate the development of this London suburb from the medieval period to the early 20th century. Located opposite the parish church of the former medieval leper hospital of St Giles-in-the-Fields, the site was open ground and gardens until the mid-16th century when residential houses were built along the High Street. St Giles was at the heart of London suburban expansion by the mid-17th century. At this time it was a relatively prosperous district, with houses lining the main streets and businesses developing behind, including the Eagle and Child and Hampshire Hog inns. The numerous objects recovered indicate a varied standard of living among the inhabitants. By the late 18th century, the reputation of the St Giles area and its housing had declined and the site lay within the southern core of the area known as the Rookery - a notorious late 18th- and 19th-century slum. However, this study reveals that the area's image may not be entirely matched by reality: it found evidence of contrasting lifestyles, households, and businesses in this period, including a prosperous family brewery, before the area eventually lost its residential character and became almost purely commercial.
Book News Annotation:
The excavations conducted at St Giles Court in Camden revealed layers in the evolution of the area from medieval times to the present. This report provides an account of archaeological investigations undertaken at the site by the Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA). The first chapter outlines the circumstances of the investigation and its contextual background. Subsequent chapters offer a chronological narrative of various archaeological periods at the site, from the 12th century onwards. The book describes various landmarks and milestones such as sewers and explains the reasons for some of the changes in the area's status over the centuries. The archaeological evidence uncovered at the site challenges accepted notions of poverty and urban life in the area in the historical period. The book is illustrated with color photos of excavation sites and artifacts on every page. Information on the author is not given. The book is distributed in North America by The David Brown Book Co. Annotation ©2012 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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