Greenwich was first recorded in 964 as Grenewic, from the Old English grene, meaning green, in context grassy or vegetated, and wic, meaning trading settlement or harbour (see also posting of January 10th, 2014).
Among the many features of historical or archaeological note in Greenwich Park – a World Heritage Site – are approximately fifty rather eroded burial mounds or barrows on Croom’s Hill, a little to the west of the line of the Prime Meridian. Archaeological excavations on the burial mounds have unearthed swords, shields and other pagan grave goods dating to the seventh century, i.e., the Saxon period. It is possible, though, that the barrows themselves were originally of Bronze Age construction, a number of instances of such re-use having been recorded elsewhere in England (see, for example, Howard William’s “Death and Memory in early Medieval Britain”). Note in this context that there is a demonstrably Bronze Age barrow known as the “Shrewsbury Tumulus” on nearby Shooters Hill (see also posting of March 6th, 2017).
Also in Greenwich Park, near the junction between Bower Avenue and Great Cross Avenue, are the remains of a second- to third- (or fourth-) century Romano-Celtic pagan temple. A dig on the site by Channel 4’s “Time Team”, in collaboration with Birkbeck College, in 1999, turned up a number of interesting finds, including part of a statue, and a stone bearing an inscription to the god Jupiter and to the spirits of the Emperors.
The dig also revealed enough of the foundation of the temple, in the form of a central principal building or cella and surrounding covered walkway or ambulatory, and outer walled precinct or temenos, to enable it to be reconstructed. The cella clearly had a tessellated floor and painted plaster walls.
The temple would have stood at a strategically important high point adjacent to the principal Roman road from Kent into London, Watling Street, possible stretches of which have also been recorded nearby.