In 1999 and 2007 respectively, the central courtyard and the northwest corner of the British Museum estate were redeveloped in order to create two iconic additions to the institution: the Great Court and the World Conservation and Exhibitions Centre.
The execution of these projects provided the opportunity to investigate the archaeology and history of the Bloomsbury area and the museum itself through excavation and subsequent archival research.
This volume presents the results of the ensuing studies undertaken by Pre-Construct Archaeology, and in so doing, details the evolution of this area of London from the Roman period into modern times. The book charts the impact that the growth of the Museum and its collection has had on the surrounding area of Bloomsbury, as well as focusing on two of the key finds of the excavation: the discovery of the hitherto elusive Civil War defences of London, and the intriguing assemblage of dead cows recovered from an early 18th-century collection of graves buried underneath the site.
As well as providing a detailed archaeological report of the excavations, the book presents an overview of the wider urban landscape in which the British Museum is situated. As a biography of a landscape over 400 years, it records and discusses the evolution of the area from rural zone on the edge of the city through various phases of development, and discusses multiple interconnected themes from urban development and housing to domestic material culture and even urban garden design.
The result is a fascinating study of one of the most iconic areas of London and provides a fresh insight into the history and evolution of the British Museum.