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Museum of London Docklands

August 4, 2017

As promised (threatened?) a post about the Crossrail exhibition. Rather than write another epic essay this one is going to be more photo based:


It’s an excellent exhibition, there’s plenty of interactive stuff20170729_110227

(The 11 year old promptly donned high visibility clothing and a hard hat – I’m hoping he thought ‘engineer’ rather than ‘archaeologist’ – someone has to keep me in my old age and I reckon an engineer’s wages beats an archaeologist’s by a long way)


(Another by the way, that sign says a third of the Crossrail construction employees were women, so how come there are no women in that photograph?)

However, plenty of interactive thingies – click on them to find out more

You can also measure yourself against a woolly mammoth, play with a section


Watch many, many videos



mostly about the archaeology, including discussions of the morality of excavating burial grounds


as well as discussion of what archaeologists do with these human remains having dug them up


There is a little bit about the engineering too


Video of big tunnel making machine – yes, that is its technical name.


Woooooh! Brand new tunnel!

but obviously the emphasis is on the archaeology and very much archaeology as it’s conventionally interpreted (I’ll come back to this in another post).

For those of a more traditional bent there are plenty of cases full of stuff

Lots and lots of written information too, not just the boards in the cases but also on the walls

Inevitably there’s the obligatory reconstruction drawing


Oh dear! I appear to have simply pointed the camera at the olden days folk picture and not bothered with focusing – but you know what it looks like, you’ve seen it a million times before.

I’ll forgive them for this though, they had funky signs:


Informative displays:


and a real attempt, through video, photography and paperwork, to show what an archaeologist actually does:

The verdict from this turret of HARN towers is that it’s a well thought out, interesting, informative exhibition, it discusses the problems faced by archaeologists working within the construction of an enormous new railway and dealing with expected and unexpected material remains. It tries to present the reality of urban archaeology not the romantic myth – there’s dirt, there’s machinery, noise and you could find yourself working on the old Crosse and Blackwell factory site rather than unearthing a Roman cemetery (I’d far prefer the factory but I suspect the general public think we only deal with the latter). When we went, on a rainy Saturday, it was well attended despite having been open for 5 months and I can imagine people visiting more than once. So, if you find yourself in London in the next month (it closes on the 3rd of September) it’s well worth a visit and not just if you’re an archaeologist – the 11 year old enjoyed it (although obviously he preferred this) and while you wouldn’t want to take young children to see it the MoL have realised this and provide a free play area in the Mudlarks Gallery. They also have an excellent cafe, always good to know!

I’ve also been watching the documentaries about the building of the Elizabeth Line and I suspect I’m going to write a post or two about those, but not next week, next week this turret is relocating to the Lake District and there won’t be a post, I’ll be back in a fortnight.

Until then, have a great weekend and week, hopefully it isn’t raining where you are – unless you want it to rain, of course



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