London’s Bronze Age bridge

Vauxhall is an area in central London on the south side of the River Thames.   It is also the site of some of the oldest in-situ structures in London.    Just to the west of Vauxhall Bridge, on the south side of the river, you can see the remains of a Bronze Age bridge or jetty.

The Bronze Age (2300 BCE to 800 BCE) structure was discovered in the early 1990’s following years of erosion to the foreshore.    It was concluded to be a bridge or jetty, built around 1500 BCE, to a gravel island in the middle of the river.

The river at Vauxhall, in this period, was marshy and non-tidal meaning the area could have served as an ancient trading hub and thoroughfare, therefore requiring a bridge or series of jetties to span the river.   Street names such as Lower Marsh (Waterloo) and Thorney Street (Westminster) remind us of this past.    There may also have been religious significance to crossing the river, as there still is today for many.

Further downstream, but much less prominent, are the remains of an even older structure from the Mesolithic period (9600 BCE – 4200 BCE), thought to date from around 4500 BCE.

Both structures are only visible at very low tides, which is the earlier part of the year and spring.

Bronze Age bridge at Vauxhall
The piles for the Bronze Age bridge at Vauxhall, from around 1500 BCE, are clearly visible at very low tide. The site is protected by wooden stakes surrounding it.
Bronze Age bridge at Vauxhall
The view of the exposed remains of the Bronze Age bridge on the foreshore at Vauxhall, looking west to the residential development at Battersea Power Station.

To find out more, follow this link:

https://www.vauxhallandkennington.org.uk/firstbridge.shtml

Read about the most beautiful find drawn from the River Thames; the Iron Age ‘Battersea Shield’:

The must-see exhibits at the British Museum (part 2)

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