© Museum of London Archaeology

8th February 2010 at 6pm

Members of the excavation team from Museum of London Archaeology will give a seminar based on the excavations at Greenwich Wharf in 2007, which uncovered the foundations of London’s earliest found medieval tide-powered mill. The huge structure, measuring ten metres by twelve metres at its base, would have had a wheel diameter of over 5 metres and has been dated to the twelfth century. The mill structure represents an extraordinary example of medieval engineering ingenuity.

Tidal mills worked by drawing in water from the river as the tide rose and releasing it as it fell, powering the mill. The mill at Greenwich features a substantial fragment of intact waterwheel and an enormous trough to channel the water which was shaped out of a single oak beam. Remarkably well preserved in riverside peat deposits, the mill is an unprecedented and rare find. It appears to have been constructed in two phases from prepared oak beams, on which carpenters’ construction marks are still clearly visible.

Simon Davis, Contract Manager for Museum of London Archaeology, said:

Tide mills may have been numerous along the Thames foreshore in the early medieval period. Four mills in Greenwich are mentioned in the Domesday book of 1086 and over 6000 mills were recorded across the country at this time. However, little evidence of mills in use in the early medieval period has been found on archaeological sites, so the discovery of a 12th century tide mill at Greenwich is very significant and exciting. Detailed recording of the find following its excavation and dismantling by the Museum of London Archaeology field team will enhance our understanding of milling technologies and early medieval economies.

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