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London bridge: 2000 years of a river crossing

2001

Abstract

London exists today because almost 2000 years ago the Romans realised it was the lowest convenient point where the Thames estuary could be bridged. The main phase of the Roman bridge apparently went out of use during the 4th century AD. The Thames was not bridged again until c 1000, when the first of a series of timber bridges was erected, initially to prevent Viking raiders sailing upstream. The great stone bridge lined with houses was constructed c 1176–1209. Twice, in 1281–2 and 1437, parts of the stone bridge were broken down by a combination of ice and neglect. It was demolished in 1831–2 after the construction of a new bridge upstream. This volume is based on the 1984 investigation of the Southwark medieval bridge abutment and combines the archaeological, architectural, historical and pictorial evidence for London's greatest bridge. The scene of battles and pageants, London Bridge was also where the 'keep left' on the road rule began in 1722.

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