London has been a major settlement for two millennia. The first major settlement was founded by the Romans, though there is evidence of even earlier settlement at two sites on the South Bank. This longevity of occupation means the city is bursting at the seams with archaeological and historical sites:
- London is home to four World Heritage Sites: the Tower of London, Kew Gardens, the Palace of Westminster and Westminster Abbey, and Greenwich.
- The Thames Foreshore is London’s longest archaeological site and has features dating back to 4500BC. Permits are needed to access the foreshore but the Thames Discovery Programme runs guided walks throughout the year.
- Remains of Roman Londinium include London Wall, the Guildhall amphitheatre, Billingsgate Roman bath house and the Mithraeum.
- Saxon sites include the ancient dock at Queenhithe and the barrow cemetery in Greenwich.
- Lambeth Palace and Hampton Court are find examples of surviving Tudor architecture but a great deal of medieval London was of course lost to the Great Fire of 1666.
- Much of London’s archaeology lies below the current cityscape and continues to be revealed through major building and infrastructure projects such as Crossrail.