Tradition holds that the spot where this officially protected view originates from – the prehistoric barrow known as King Henry’s Mound – was where King Henry VIII stood on 19th May, 1536, to watch for a rocket fired from the Tower of London.
The signal was to indicate that his former wife, Anne Boleyn, had been beheaded for treason and hence that he was now free to marry Jane Seymour.
Sadly, the story is seen as unlikely – the king was apparently in Wiltshire at the time.
But it adds a nice nostalgia to this tree-framed view which looks across Richmond Park and areas south of the River Thames to the great dome of St Paul’s Cathedral.
The mound, which also offers views west over the Thames Valley towards Windsor, is believed to cover a burial chamber from the Bronze Age (it would have stood more prominently over the Thames Valley in those days) and was later used as a viewing position for hunting deer and falconry.
A permanent public telescope has been set up on the mound which since the 19th century has sat in Pembroke Lodge Garden (named for the Countess of Pembroke who lived in a cottage here between about 1788 and 1831).
The historic view made headlines last year over calls for London’s Mayor to step in and halt building work amid concerns that the 42-storey Manhattan Loft Gardens tower in Stratford, east London, could be seen in the view behind the cathedral dome.
WHERE: King Henry’s Mound, Richmond Park (nearest Tube station is Richmond); WHEN: 24 hour pedestrian access except during the deer cull in November and February; COST: Free entry; WEBSITE: www.royalparks.org.uk/parks/richmond-park
PICTURE: Royal Parks
Crossrail’s lead archaeologist Jay Carver holding a hammer stone which is among the first Bronze Age finds uncovered during the £14.8 billion rail project.
The discoveries, uncovered at the Plumstead tunnel entrance site in East London (not far from Belmarsh Prison), also included two wooden stakes that may have been cut by early hunters with an axe and which may have been used in the building of a timber path, part of a network which allowed hunters to access wetland areas about 3,500 years ago.
“Although we haven’t identified an actual track way yet, the timbers are similar to those used to make the track ways and certainly show that people were in the area exploiting the woodland,” says Mr Carver. “This is a promising find as we continue our search for evidence of a Bronze Age transport route along where London’s newest railway will run.”
Previous objects found at Crossrail project sites include human bones from the medieval period, a find of rare amber and a piece from a mammoth’s jaw bone.
The latest finds, which are now being examined by Museum of London Archaeology, were made as a month long exhibition opens at Crossrail’s Tottenham Court Road Visitor Information Centre (16-18 St Giles High Street), displaying previous objects found during the project.
Meanwhile, as part of the exhibition, Mr Carver will also host a Q&A session on Twitter (#BisontoBedlam) today between 2pm and 9pm during which he will answer questions on Crossrail’s archaeology programme and the exhibition.
Crossrail, Europe’s largest construction project, will see the construction of a new rail link running along a 73 mile route across the city.
For more on Crossrail, see www.crossrail.co.uk. PICTURE: Courtesy of Crossrail.