‘This important find, dating back to 50AD, documents the arguments over a proposed third Highway out of Londinium,’ the Chief archaeologist explained. ‘It shows the political struggle between those in power who thought a third highway would help the settlement’s economy by being better able to trade cattle and slaves with other settlements as far away as Paris, Rome and even Maidenhead, and the opposition, who were rounded up and summarily executed.
David Cameron has said there is much we can learn from Roman democracy.
The Ancient documents were uncovered during some ‘essential road maintenance’ deep under Whitehall, and show that those against the scheme devised by Maximus Profitus have cited environmental factors as being the main reason for their opposition, although other historians have pointed out they may well mostly have been people or traders who simply wanted a quiet life and adequate sleep, away from the noise of transport.
Although the documents show the bitter dispute between those for and against, they do fail to shed light on the outcome of the plans. Some have speculated that the third highway was given the green light not long after the 50AD date on the document, which would mean its completion will be due in 2045, but with no evidence anywhere of progress on that project or even a tangible decision, others have suggested that the House of Lords may be the last port of call, as it is hoped a couple of the members may well remember what went on.
But other aspects in the report remain intriguing. So much so that an expedition has been launched aimed at finding the lost island of Boris out in the Thames estuary; a monument to artifice, started but never completed and eventually submerged under a wave of popular protest from the Iceni and Cantiaci in AD 94.