altDIGS at the London Olympic site have unearthed evidence of Iron Age and Roman settlements, it was revealed today.




Pottery and a Roman coin have been found on the site of the planned Aquatics Centre in Stratford.


They were buried behind a wooden river wall that may have been built and used by the Romans.


The coin, which has been dated to 330-335 AD, shows two soldiers and their standards on one side, and emperor Constantine II and Caesar on the other.


The £150 million Zaha Hadid-designed centre has been radically overhauled recently, with a large pedestrian bridge having been incorporated into the roof structure.


Uncertainty remains over its final cost, while only one contractor interested in taking on the project after two dropped out.


But the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) said the archaeological finds would not delay the building programme.


The items will go on show at the Museum of London as part of its collection and record of the site's dig.


London's Iron-Age dwellers would have lived on a small area of dry land in a valley of lakes, rivers and marshes, and would have fished in the River Lea, the ODA said.


The Aquatics Centre will be beside the river, which is currently being widened by eight metres as part of a programme to restore the ancient waterways of the Lower Lea Valley.


Archaeologists are currently dating the woodwork and trying to establish how the finds link to evidence of Roman activity in the Hackney Wick area, which would have overlooked the Lea Valley.


ODA chief executive David Higgins said: "It is a story of change and transformation dating back centuries.


"The archaeological work has been long planned in conjunction with our programme and will not cause any delays."


Olympic Park timeline:


3000BC: wetlands which the early Londoners navigated by timber walkways to fish and hunt.


50AD: the Roman road ‘ Ermine Street ’ from London to Colchester crossed marshes


Late 9th century – King Alfred reputedly dug Channelsea river to divert invading Vikings from the Thames on their way to London


1110: The first stone arch ‘bow’ bridge in Britain , gave the area its name


1135: Cistercian Abbey exploited Lea water power


Late 12th century: Knights Templar water mill ( Temple Mills )


17th/18th century: UK ’s first calico printer and porcelain factory


1892: UK ’s first petrol factory.


1858: The Northern Outfall Sewer constructed


1860: Plastic invented in the Lea Valley .


1876: Dry cleaning introduced to the UK .


1904: William Yardley cosmetics, soap and lavender factory