The works to build a permanent access ramp between the nave and the north transept, which were monitored by our archaeologist, Dr Jackie Hall, revealed even more than she hoped for
The early 12th-century foundations of the Augustinian priory church could be seen - a surprising 45cm above the level of the medieval nave. The main foundation seen was a 'sleeper wall' - a foundation that runs underneath the arches of a building. It was continous with the foundation of the north wall - and a tiny section of the 12th-century north wall could be seen below and behind the late 13th-century wall which still stand (much restored). On the south side, the foundation was cut by the much larger foundation to support the central tower.
The original 12th-century foundations were cut into a dense dark deposit known as 'dark earth', which built up in the post-Roman period as a result of long period of settlement. This is probably the highest it's been seen this close to the river in Southwark, giving some indication of the natural topography of the area in the early 12th century, and some explanation of why the eastern parts of the priory church were so much higher than the nave.
A step was set on the west side of the foundation, probably in the port-medieval period, since it appears to be contemporary with a partially-preserved pavement, made up of reused tiles of different dates, but including a 13-14th century decorated tile and 15th-16th century larger plain tiles.
Although the step and tiles had to be removed to make way for the ramp, it was possible to retain the earlier archaeology, thanks to the Cathedral Architect, Kelley Christ and to Fullers Builders Ltd. And the step itself will be reused in the floor at the top of the ramp.