This report contains an assessment of the building material from the excavation. The report was written by Ian Betts of Museum of London Archaeology, but has been edited for web by Chaz Morse and Guy Hunt. For a full index of the assessment reports, please see the assessment report index.

Summary of archive

Class Quantity
Building Material 22 large crates of ceramic building material
Total 509.07kg
Material Retained 22 shoes boxes and 2 larger boxes of bulk material have been retained in the archive

Introduction and Methodology

All the building material has been recorded using the standard recording forms used by the Museum of London. This has involved fabric analysis undertaken with a x10 binocular microscope. The information on the recording forms has been added to an Oracle database. The bulk of the material was discarded after assessment with only selected materials retain in the archive (see summary).

Much of the building material, especially the Roman brick, tile and daub is abraded.

Roman stone building material


What may be a part of a block of cream coloured tufa was found in context (1805). It is covered on the top/base and two sides by pink opus signinum. This block has an incomplete length/breadth of 280mm.

Stone tessera

Rectangular shaped hard chalk tessera were recovered from contexts (1435) and (1876), whilst square shaped pieces of probable tessera were found in contexts (1407) and (1422). The former is very small in size suggesting it derived from a decorated mosaic pavement.


An inlay or veneer cut from Purbeck marble was found with Roman tile in context (1272). It has a cut top and base, two cut edges and measures 22–24mm in thickness.


Possible late Roman stone roofing material was recovered from three contexts. This comprises a sandy limestone from context (542), a highly micaceous fine grained sandstone, from context (594), and another fine grained sandstone from context (791).

Roman daub, mud brick and keyed daub walling

Most of the daub is highly abraded and is probably of Roman date. Very few fragments show any features such as wattle and lath impressions. A few fragments of what appears to be highly abraded keyed daub are present in contexts (1382) and (1580).

What may be very abraded mud brick was recovered from contexts (1381) and (1497).

Roman ceramic building material


Early Roman fabrics – Fabric group 2815, fabrics 2451, 2454, 3019, 3022, 3023, 3024, 3028, 3060, 3068, 3069.

Late Roman fabrics – 2451, 2453, 2457, 2459B, 2459C, 3013, 3023B, 3026, 3060B.

Undated fabrics – 3057, 3238.


Fabric group 2815, fabrics 2454, 2459B

Although there are small square ceramic tessera shaped fragments from the site it is uncertain just how many are tessera. Many show no obvious signs of wear and very few have the mortar around the sites or base which would be expected if they had been set in a floor. It is possible than many were cut as tessera but never used. These possible tesserae include examples made from combed and scored box-flue tile from contexts (1407), (1811).

There is very little evidence for any kind of tessellated pavement on the site as there are only two contexts with more than three possible ceramic tessera: these being context (1407), with 22 examples, and context (1532), with 29 examples. The site also produced four possible ceramic tessera cut from cream pottery, found in contexts (1407), (1532).

Definite used ceramic tesserae were found in contexts (1443), (1462), (1811), (1912), (1923), (1934), and (1948).

Roofing tile

Fabric group 2815, fabrics 2451, 2453, 2454, 2457, 2459B, 3013, 3022, 3023, 3023B, 3024, 3026, 3028, 3057, 3060, 3060B?, 3068, 3069, 3238

All the roofing tiles are fragmentary, but there are a small number of partly complete tegulae and imbrices. The roofing material is a mixture of early Roman types, such as fabric group 2815, and later Roman types such as various members of the calcium carbonate group (fabrics 2453, 2457, 3013, 3026). A number of rarer fabric types are present, representing imports from outside the London area. Among these are tegula and imbrex tile with fine white shelly moulding sand (fabric 3024). They are not well dated, but at 23–39 Eastcheap (EST83) similar tiles were found associated with pottery of AD55–80 date.

Flue tile

Fabric group 2815, fabrics 2454, 2459B, 2459C, 3054

There is no definite 1st century scored flue tiles from the site, apart from one re-cut as a tessera (see above). Most of the flue tiles from the site have combed keying with evidence of square/rectangular vents holes in the plain sides. One combed tile is an import from a tilery believed to have been situated somewhere along the coast of southern England (fabric 3054). This is of probably late 1st-century date.

There is also a solitary roller-stamped flue tile from the site, from context (1932). The tile is too small to identify the actual die type present.

Half box-flue

Fabric group 2815

The only half box-flue from the site was found in context (1272). This has a knife scored base and a groove next to where the flange would have been located on the other side.


Fabric group 2815, fabrics 2454, 2459B, 3019, 3023, 3028, 3060, 3060B, 3238

A large quantity of brick was found on the site, although most of this is highly fragmentary. Again bricks in both early and later Roman fabric types are present.

Opus spicatum paving brick

Fabric group 2815, fabric 2454

There are three fragmentary opus spicatum paving bricks from the site. It is not certain if these were ever used as paving as none show any obvious signs of wear. They measure 129 × 57–64 × 19–38mm (fabric group 2815) and ? x 59 × 20–21 mm (fabric 2454).

Markings on Roman tiles and bricks

A variety of signature marks are present, mostly of common semi-circular type. Tally marks are shown on a brick from context (1381) (fabric 3028), which has the number X (10) cut into the edge.

A number of bricks have paw and hoof prints in their top surface.

Roman painted wall plaster

A few small scattered pieces of wall plaster were found on the site. There is a border area in white with a 6mm wide black strip from context (1541) and various small decorated, border and plain plaster fragments from context (1758). The other plaster is plain dark red from context (1526), and plain white, from contexts (1372), (1438), and (1480).

Saxon building material


Medieval ceramic building material


Early Medieval fabric – 2273.

Late Medieval fabrics – 1678, 1810, 1813, 2191, 2199, 2271, 2273, 2316, 2322, 2323, 2324, 2497, 2504, 2505, 2537, 2586, 2587, 2816, 2894, 3031, 3043, 3076, 3090, 3201, 3216, 3241.


Floor tile – ‘Westminster’ (1250–1300)

Fabric: 2199

Four ‘Westminster’ floor tiles, dating to from the second half of the 13th into the early years of the 14th century, were found on the site, from contexts (558), (573), (791), (949). Two are decorated (Betts 2002, designs: W103 and W104) whilst the others have a plain green glaze and a plain yellow glaze. The green glazed tile is triangular in shape.

Floor tile – Eltham Palace/Lesnes Abbey

Fabric: 2324

A solitary tile belonging to this late 13th to early 14th century group was found in context (659). This is decorated with an unpublished design.

Floor tile – Penn

Fabric: 1810, 2894, 3076

Decorated and worn Penn tiles dating to the period 1350–90 were recovered from contexts (243), (590), (642), (708), (723), (954), (987) and (999). The Eames (1980) and Hohler (1942) decorative designs present are: E1933/P128, E2223/P46?, E2255/P146, E2353/P58, E2409/P66, E2537 or E2538 and E2864. Another tile design is known from Merton Priory (Betts 2007, 205, fig 202 <93>).

Floor tile – Dieppe, France

Fabric: 3241

What appears to be a plain green and brown mottled floor tile belonging to the Dieppe group was found in context [659]. This is probably 1375– c1405 in date.

Floor tile – Low Countries ‘Flemish’ (14th to late 15th century)

Fabrics: 1678, 1813, 2191, 2323, 2497, 2504

There are a number of plain brown, dark green and yellow glazed Low Countries floor tiles. These would have been set in a chequerboard style floor with the yellow tiles alternating with the green/brown glazed examples.

Floor tile – Other

Fabrics: 2316, 2322, 2505

Three floor tiles are in undiagnostic fabric types (contexts [659], [664], [949]. Some of these are probably also Low Countries imports, whilst others could be English.

Roofing Tile – Shouldered peg

Fabric: 2273

Only three pieces of shouldered peg tile were recovered from contexts (573), (931) and (942), two of which show evidence of reuse. These are probably mid 11th to early 12th century in date.

Roofing Tile – Curved tile

Fabric: 2273

There are only two pieces of early 11th to early 12th century curved tile from the site, from contexts (580), (1349).

Roofing Tile – Peg

Fabric: 2271, 2273, 2537, 2586, 2587, 2816, 3090, 3201, 3216

A large quantity of Medieval peg tiles were collected. These are of standard London-type with two round nail holes near the upper edge. Splash glaze is present on the bottom third of certain tiles. Two tiles have what may be batch marks in the top corner, one unstratified and the other from context (615). Most of the peg tiles were almost certainly made in the London area but there are a few imports from north Kent (fabrics 3201, 3216). A few tiles show burning along one edge which suggests they may have been used vertically in a tiled hearth.

Roofing Tile – Ridge

Fabric: 2271, 2586, 2816

The buildings with peg tiled roofs would have had curved ridge tiles running along the apex of the roof. A few fragments were found on the site, some with a brown glaze. One fragment is of particular interest in having white slip decoration added to the tile side, from context (577). Such tiles are extremely rare in London, although a few fragments are known from Southwark (Betts 2009, 173) and Finsbury Pavement (FIP92).

Roofing Tile – Nib tile

Fabric: 2816

A tile with a partly trimmed edge and the beginnings of a nib on the sanded underside was found in context [943]. This is in the fine fairly sandy fabric 2816 characteristic of many nib tiles used in the London area.


Fabrics: 3031, 3043

Two types of medieval brick are present, both probably imports from the Low Countries. The first are yellow coloured bricks from contexts (842), (943) and (1009), whilst the other are pale red bricks from contexts (943) and (1349). Similar yellow bricks are relatively common in London, but the other brick type is much rarer.

Post-Medieval ceramic building material


Tudor fabrics – 1678, 1977, 2191, 2323, 2497, 2504, 2850, 3083.

Later fabrics – 2318, 2320, 2850, 3067, 3086.

Undated fabrics – 2276.

Floor tile – Low Countries ‘Flemish’ glazed

Fabrics: 1678, 1977, 2191, 2323, 2497, 2504, 2850, 3083

A large number of fragmentary Low Countries floor tiles dating to the late 15th to 16th century were recovered. These have the same dark green, brown and yellow glaze as the earlier Medieval examples and would have been arranged in the floor in the same pattern.

Floor tile – Low Countries ‘Flemish’ unglazed

Fabrics: 2318, 2320, 2850

A smaller number of unglazed Low Countries tiles dating from the late 16th to 18th century are also present in contexts (515), (516), (542), (938) and (1874).

Wall tile – Tin glazed

Fabrics: 3067, 3086

Five tin-glazed wall tiles of probable 18th century date were recovered from the site, two of which are decorated in blue and white. One, from context (562), shows a landscape scene, whilst the other, from context (1158) has what may be a biblical design. The other three tiles are plain glazed and come from contexts (594) and (1686).

Roofing Tile – Peg

Fabrics: 2271, 2276, 2586, 2816

There are large numbers of London-made post Medieval peg tiles. These are no longer glazed and have a wider variety of nail hole shapes. As well as round holes, there are holes of square, triangular and diamond shape. The latter are where square holes are set at a 45° to the tile sides.

A few complete and partially complete peg tiles were recovered.

Roofing Tile – Pantile

Fabrics: 2275, 3202

A number of partly complete pantiles were present in contexts (524), (608), (1158), (1695), and (1686). The pantiles from the site are probably mid 17th- to 19th-century date.

Roofing Tile – Ridge Tile

Fabric: 2276

A small number of ridge tiles were collected.


Fabrics: 3032, 3033, 3042, 3046, 3038

The post Medieval bricks collected from the site have still to be studied in detail, but many appear to be red bricks of 1450–1666 date or later dark red bricks dating to 1666–1800. A yellow London stock brick was noted in context {1953}. A series of 19th century bricks from context {792} have the letter O in the frog base. This may be the mark of the brickworks owner.


Fabric: 2318

A curious green glazed tile with a concave surface was found in context (590). This may be part of a ceramic drain, or possibly a hearth. It is made with similar clay to certain late 15th–16th century Low Countries floor tiles, so it may be an import from the same source.

Stone building material

This category included below are various pieces of stone which are as yet of uncertain date.


One cut block of Reigate stone (probably Medieval) was recovered from context (558), whilst rough weathered blocks of Hassock sandstone and hard chalk were found in context (958) and (959) respectively. There is also another possible fragment of ashlars cut from Hassock sandstone, from context (1453).


What is probably stone paving was recovered from five contexts. This comprises examples cut from Purbeck Marble from context (1874), Purbeck limestone from context (668), a fine grained highly glauconitic sandstone, from context (1458), a creamy-white oolitic limestone from pit (1591) and what appear to be Forest Marble from context (618).


The rubble stone types present are Kentish rag, Hassock sandstone, chalk, oolitic limestone, calcareous tufa (probably Roman), chert, a hard fine grained light grey limestone and a fine grey micaceous siltstone.

Assessment work outstanding

Two large pieces of worked stone, probably of 18th- to 19th-century date, still require recording. All the other building material from the site has been recorded, but most pantiles still require their fabric to be examined. Both the stones and the pantiles will also need to be added to the Oracle database.

Analysis of potential

Just over half the building material from the site is of Roman date. Whilst most ceramic tiles are in common fabric types there are also a few less common fabric varieties. These are likely to be imports from outside the London area. Most ceramic Roman tile is roofing tile and brick, but there are a number of combed box-flue tiles as well as more uncommon forms such as opus spicatum paving bricks and half-box flue tiles.

The Medieval ceramic building material is generally floor and roofing tile with a few Medieval bricks. The majority of floor tiles are plain glazed examples from the Low Countries, but other types are present including decorated tiles of ‘Westminster’ and Penn type and a plain glazed tile of French origin. The Medieval bricks are also likely to be Low Countries imports.

Roofing tile and bricks predominate in the post Medieval assemblage, but there are also a considerable number of larger sized plain glazed floor tiles from the Low Countries. A few later non-glazed Low Countries tiles are also present.

Other building material types from the site include Roman daub and mud brick, much of which is abraded, a few pieces of wall plaster and various types of building stone. Some of the latter was used as walling, whilst other pieces may have been used as paving or roofing.

Significance of the data

There is both early and late Roman building material on the site, as well as pieces of daub and mud brick. The combed box-flue tile almost certainly derives from a masonry building, or buildings, with a hypocaust heating system. This may have had a plain red tessellated floor if the tesserae found on the site are from the same building. The wall plaster would have also come from the interior of the same building.

Only a very small number of 11th –early 12th century roofing tiles were recovered from the site and most of these seem to have been reused in later context. This suggests there was no, or very little, 11th–early 12th century building activity on or near the site.

Most of the Medieval building material probably dates to the 12th–15th century. There are a considerable number of both plain and decorated floor tiles which may derive from the Abbey of St. Clare or another monastic building or parish church located nearby. The variety of tile types present suggest they come from a church building with various phases of flooring.

Most of the roofing tile is of standard London type, but a rare slip decorated ridge tile is worth of note, as is a fragment of nib tile which is probably of 1200–1400 date. Some of the roofing tile may also have come from the Abbey of St. Clare.

Medieval bricks are relatively uncommon in London, but two varieties (yellow and pale red) were found on the Prescot Street site. The yellow variety were often used as paving or cut to form a decorative string course. There is nothing to indicate where the Prescot Street examples came from, although one of the pale red bricks has possible wear on the top suggesting its use as paving.

The later bricks from the site still have to be examined in detail but appear to be a mixture of pre- and post 1666 types. Some of the bricks may relate to the late 17th-century development of the area. The presence of tin-glazed wall tiles hints at the interior decoration present in some of the homes of the wealthy merchant’s resident in the area during early 18th century.