In 2007, Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) was commissioned to carry out an archaeological assessment of a site in Shoreditch. It was known that London’s first purpose-built Elizabethan playhouse, the Theatre, had stood on or very near the site. Documentary research led to a fieldwork evaluation, during which small, targeted trenches were excavated to assess the level and extent of any archaeological remains. It was found that archaeological remains did indeed survive and that they included a section of the foundations of the Elizabethan playhouse. Parts of the buildings that would have stood in the outer court of Holywell Priory, which was closed by Henry VIII a generation before the Theatre was built, were also located.
As a result, MOLA undertook a three-month-long excavation in the summer of 2010. By mapping the Theatre remains and excavating some of the deposits formed during its use, MOLA was able to accurately locate the playhouse for the first time and find out more of its history, whilst leaving its physical remains in place.
Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) provides expert archaeological and built heritage services to help our property industry clients build for the future. Our team of 200 professional archaeologists and specialists has been excavating and researching sites across the UK for nearly 40 years, and we have offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester. The far-reaching, educational results of MOLA’s work, funded by development through the planning process, literally make history.
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