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Crossrail and London’s archaeology

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Come on a journey under London, following Crossrail from east to west. Along the way dig deep into London’s past and uncover the amazing archaeological discoveries of the project.

Crossrail is building the Elizabeth line, a new railway that will open in phases from 2018. It covers over 100km, running from Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east, through the heart of London’s West End, to Heathrow and Reading in the west.

Building a new train line under London presented many challenges and required innovative engineering techniques. Forty two kilometres of tunnels had to be dug under some of London’s busiest streets, avoiding building foundations, underground lines, water pipes and electrical cabling.

Most of the tunnels were too deep to disturb the archaeology. However, where new stations and structures were built, where the tunnels reached the surface (the portals), or where the line connected with existing stations, there was the unique opportunity to uncover layers of London’s history.

From the very beginning, archaeology was a priority – to excavate, record and communicate what was found along the route and add to our knowledge about the history of the capital.

From prehistoric forests and marshes to marvels of 21st-century engineering, the twin threads of archaeology and engineering were drawn together in a project that has pushed boundaries and broadened knowledge.

From east to west, this online exhibition guides you through the most exciting archaeological discoveries made during the Crossrail project.