Monday, February 16, 2009

Medieval water mill found in Greenwich

By Nick Collins
16 February 2009
Press Association National Newswire

The London Eye may tower over modern London, but the discovery of a medieval water mill in Greenwich shows it had an 800-year-old precedent.

The find, at Greenwich Wharf, is the earliest tide-powered mill to be discovered in London, and was an extraordinary feat of engineering when it was built in the late 12th century.

Archaeologists from the Museum of London discovered the foundations of the mill, which measured 10 meters by 12 metres at its base and had a wheel diameter of 5.2 metres, during preparations for a new housing development.

The discovery includes a large piece of intact wheel and an enormous trough made from a single oak beam. It was so well preserved in riverside peat deposits that carpenters' construction marks are still visible on the wood.

The structure has now been dismantled, and key sections have been moved to York Archaeological Trust for conservation work.

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. 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."