Excavations at West Tenter Street in 1984
In 1984, the Department of Greater London Archaeology, part of the Museum of London, undertook the excavation of a site bordering West Tenter Street, Scarborough Street, St. Mark Street and South Tenter Street which is located next to the Prescot Street site. The site lies about 330 metres east of the Roman city wall and ran at an angle to the cemetery road. The excavations were directed by Rob Whytehead and have been published by the London and Middlesex Archaeological Society (Whytehead 1986).
The excavated area was roughly 8 metres wide and 69 metres long. 120 inhumation burials and 14 cremation burials were found, with at least 7 further cremation urns that had been moved from their original position. The foundations of stone tombstones were found aligned with graves along the eastern edge of the excavation, which suggests they lay beside the cemetery road.
West Tenter Street seems to reflect the profile of a typical urban population in terms of age, sex and pathology. The burial practises are also typical in other Romano-British cemeteries. Fashions in burial practise changed over time, with cremation gradually fading by the mid 3rd century. Inhumation continued in use until the 4th century. The area appears to have been in use as a place to bury the dead from the very late 1st century until the late 4th and perhaps even the early 5th century.
Grave goods were found with 2 out of 13 intact cremation burials and 26 out of 120 inhumations. None were found in the graves with tombstones. Miniature vessels and cooking pots appear to have been the favourite burial goods. All the intact cremations found on site were placed in cooking jars or pots. Many of the pottery vessels found in the inhumation burials appear to have been deliberately broken, perhaps during graveside rituals or ceremonies. Other finds include, glass flagons, beakers and bowls, clay lamps, mirrors, metal and shale jewellery, beads, rings, hobnails from shoes, and coins.
The burial with the most lavish finds was a cremation. This was deposited within a Verulamium White Ware jar at least 60 years after it was manufactured. It contained a rare circular box mirror with a head of Nero, with only a handful of similar examples known in Europe; a rectangular mirror made of tin bronze which would have had a wooden frame; a pendant coin dating to 67 -68 AD of Nero ; a small yellow glass ring with a cornelian stone and a small glass pot.