Dr. Thomas Williams

We’re delighted to announce that Dr. Thomas Williams will be joining Placecloud as an expert, publishing 10 viewpoints in June.

Thomas is a historian of the early Middle Ages and a former curator at the British Museum’s Department of Coins and Medals. He worked as project curator for the major international exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend (British Museum 2014) and is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London. His books Viking Britain (2017) and Viking London (2019) are published by William Collins.

Here are some tasters of Thomas’ forthcoming viewpoints to whet your appetite:

Olaf House, Southwark

A rather handsome art deco building on the site of an ancient church dedicated to St Olaf. It once stood at the southern end of old London Bridge – a bridge that was famously torn down in 1014 by Viking ships commanded by the very same Olaf.  

Westminster Abbey

Although it was Edward the Confessor who is most associated with the abbey, the first king of England to be buried at Westminster was Harold I ‘Harefoot’, the son of King Cnut. He was not a popular king – when his half-brother Harthacnut took the throne in 1040, he had Harold dug up and thrown into bulunga fen.

Craven Passage, Charing Cross

This strange, dimly lit underpass traces the edge of what was once London’s Anglo-Saxon riverside embankment, a waterfront that once witnessed the arrival of Viking raiding fleets.

Queenhithe and Bull Wharf

Queenhithe is the only surviving section of the City of London’s ancient riverfront, excavations from here and neighbouring Bull Wharf have revealed evidence of London’s role in international trade – including the largest concentration of Viking artefacts in Britain outside York. 

London Wall, Barbican

The walls themselves are Roman, but they played an important role in London’s Viking Age fortunes – repelling numerous attacks. In 1016, Edric Streona, famous villain of England’s later Viking wars, was thrown over them by King Cnut. 

St Alphege’s Church, Greenwich

The church of St Alphege was built on the site of the martyrdom of St Ælfheah: the archbishop of Canterbury who, having been kidnapped by Vikings and taken to their camp at Greenwich, was battered to death with animal bones…

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Excavations at the ROH revealed stunning evidence of early London, both the homes and workshops of the inhabitants and also the defensive ditches that may have been built to protect against Viking attack before the area was abandoned.

St Paul’s Cathedral

St Paul’s was the heart of early London. It was the burial place of King Ethelred (‘the ill-advised’) and also of unfortunate Archbishop Ælfheah whose body was stolen from its tomb by King Cnut. The graveyard was once home to the London runestone, a rare monument to a member of London’s Scandinavian elite. 

Ukraininan Catholic Chancery, 21-22 Binney St.

These buildings once formed the King’s Weigh House Church rooms, and served as the meeting place for The Viking Club, a society formed in 1892 and boasting William Morris and other famous antiquarians of the time as members. The society was mercilessly lampooned for the Norse names it accorded to its officers… 

Leave a Reply