Excavations at London Bridge City, Southwark, 1999
Over 400 leather shoes and numerous other finds from the fish tanks offer a rare glimpse into the everyday lifestyle of 16th-century Londoners. Never before have so many Tudor objects been found together in such closely datable deposits and in such a fine state of preservation. Some of the objects were thrown into the disused fish tanks in about 1560, when the property known at that time as the Pike Garden was sold. Others found their way into a nearby sewer that was finally closed in 1610.
The finds portray all levels of society on London's south bank from the wealthy with their padded armour to the poor with their worn pewter spoons. Pottery tankards and a bottle in its wicker basket point to the taverns for which Southwark was famous. Many of the pots were imported: there is even a piece of Chinese porcelain, the earliest example to be recorded from London so far. Offcuts and half-finished objects help to explain the trades of the blacksmith and leatherworker, whilst a shovel and sickle were probably used by local gardeners.
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