Cannon Street collection

A series of skulls from Cannon Street

A series of skulls from Cannon Street 

The remains of seven Romans unearthed in Cannon Street in 1861. 

Origins of the collection

Cannon street

Cannon Street was at the centre of Roman Londinium. Much of what we know about life at the time has been derived from archaeological remains from excavations since these individuals were found.

Buried in river soil

Three of the individuals from Cannon Street have dark reddish-brown staining that is indicative of burial in alluvial (river) soil.

The Walbrook tributary ran across Cannon Street during the Roman period and while many crania have been found associated with it, it is unlikely that these remains are related to the much talked about ‘Walbrook skulls’.

Mandibles 

Three individuals consist of a cranium and mandible. The presence of the mandibles suggest that skulls had not travelled far from where they were interred. There is no evidence of decapitation.

Dental defects

All but one of these individuals have dental defects. The defect indicate the individuals teeth stopped growing during childhood as a result of disease or nutritional deficiencies. 

These skulls were given to the collections of the Royal College of Surgeons during the Victorian period and were transferred to the Natural History Museum in the late 1940s.

Individuals of note

Calculus

PA SK 169

cannon-street-roman-skull-172-two-column

Individual with heavy build-up of dental calculus.

Individual with linear enamel hypoplasia of the teeth

Individual with linear enamel hypoplasia of the teeth

Looking for a specific specimen?

The London human remains collection has been digitised

Collections team

Principal Curator

Dr Heather Bonney

Curator

Dr Rachel Ives

Curatorial assistant

Jennifer White

Any questions?

If you would like to use any specimens for research, please get in touch

Related information

visitor-accessing-collections-hti-single

Accessing the collections

Scientists and collections management specialists can visit the collections and borrow specimens for research.

Collections management

Our duty is to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our collections.