The Thames has seen many, many strange things in its long journey - even in recent times, we have had headless bodies, a giant statue of Michael Jackson and a whale. Whenever I am at Vauxhall cross - a large busy intersection of railway lines, an underground station, a bus terminus and the home of the English secret service - I always remember that this is a place of some prehistoric significance. Take the ramp next to MI5 down to the relative peace of the river foreshore at low tide and you may see why.
In 1999, following the discovery of neolithic axe heads, the remains of a bronze age timber structure were revealed by the eroding river bank. It is considered to either be an early bridge across the river or possibly a jetty intended to connect the shore with an island which is now lost. Bronze spears were also discovered - apparently intentionally placed into the river bed.
This location is significant - it is the point where the tidal Thames turns - where salt water meets fresh and the place where the rivers Effra, on the south bank and Tyburn, on the north, (both now subterranean) empty into the greater river. These outfalls can also be seen at low tide.
As these rivers were once navigable, it is likely that the area was a focus of some activity and it appears that several ancient routes converged upon it - as their contemporary equivalents still do. A southern projection of the Roman Watling street reaches the river on the north bank and Kennington Lane, thought to be the route of a raised pre-roman trackwa, joins on the south bank. The timber bridge / jetty would be a continuation of this route - linking the Kennington settlement either with the 'holy' island or the north bank of the Thames.
There are two rows of about twenty stumps - leaning inwards and giving an estimated jetty width of about four meters. They may soon be gone because now exposed,they are subject to erosion. The mystery to me is how they survived for thousands of years at all - particularly in a situation like this.
It is a new year and that reminds me, I must soon write about a very odd thing - the time machine hidden in a secret location in a very posh part of town..
Posted by clerkenwell kid at 1:59 pm