London: Archaeologists announced Wednesday they have discovered hundreds of writing tablets from Roman London – including the oldest handwritten document ever found in Britain – in a trove that provides insight into the city’s earliest history as a busy commercial town. Researchers from Museum of London Archaeology uncovered more than 400 wooden tablets during excavations in London’s financial district for the new headquarters of media and data company Bloomberg.
So far, 87 have been deciphered, including one addressed “in London, to Mogontius” and dated to A.D. 65-80 – the earliest written reference to the city, which the Romans called Londinium. Sophie Jackson, an archaeologist working on the site, said the find was “hugely significant.”
The Romans founded London after their invasion of Britain in A.D. 43. The settlement was destroyed in a Celtic rebellion led by Queen Boudica in A.D. 61, but quickly rebuilt. The documents show that only a few years after it was established, London was already a thriving town of merchants and traders. The records include references to beer deliveries, food orders and legal rulings.