Temple of Mithras prepares for facelift


Plans to dismantle and move the reconstructed Roman Temple of Mithras to temporary storage, ahead of a more faithful reconstruction, will begin on the 21 November 2011 by Museum of London Archaeology. 

1954 Temple of Mithras excavation [Credit: Museum of London]

The temple, which is located at Walbrook Square, was discovered by chance in 1952 by archaeologist WF Grimes as the site was being prepared for redevelopment. On the last day of excavation, 18 September 1954, the marble head of the god of Mithras was unearthed. Several more amazing artefacts, including several sculptures, were later found – these are now on display in the Museum of London’s Roman gallery.  

The temple was dismantled at that time and the Roman building material put into storage. In 1962, the temple was reconstructed on a podium adjacent to Queen Victoria Street, 90 metres from its original site, nine metres above its original level and set in modern cement mortar. 

Temple of Mithras reconstruction [Credit: Museum of London]

In December 2010, Bloomberg LP, the global business and financial information and news leader, purchased the Walbrook Square site to build its new European headquarters building. Listed building consent was granted for the dismantling of the current Temple of Mithras reconstruction and expert stone masons have been commissioned by Bloomberg to carefully extract the Roman stone and tile from the 1960s cement mortar. The temple is due to be carefully packaged up and moved to storage for the second time. 

Bloomberg LP will restore the temple to its original Roman location and a more historically accurate guise. Upon completion of Bloomberg’s new development, the new reconstruction of the Temple of Mithras will be housed in a purpose-built and publicly accessible interpretation space within their new building. 

Source: Museum of London/Archaeology [November 17, 2011]