"London, thou art the flower of cities all".

William Dunbar

Traces of the Past

In early years, Trafalgar Square
was home to lion, mammoth bear.
Their bones are labelled now in cases,
Or cardboard boxes hold their traces.
The modern Londoner can see
The remnants of antiquity
The Romans left much more behind,
their pots, their gods,their forts remind
us of the soldiers, merchants, slaves.
Their markets, temples, villas , graves,
Basilica and roads and forum
And Mithras’ strange sanctum sanctorum.
The Saxons came .They did not leave
Such massive works, did not achieve
Imperial rule or marble halls
But built the very first St. Paul’s.
Saxons had faith.The Romans power,
and in All Hallows -by-the-Tower
Still stands a seventh century stone
strong Saxon arch. It’s not alone.
We’ve coins and axes, rings, foundations
of churches, huts and streets. Invasions
then of Vikings left their tracks,
Sea-borne , they came with spear and axe
They left behind a queer shaped dragon
on runic slab with hunting stag on.
The Normans came- a war-like race
Conquering in mail with mace
They built a fortress high and steep
with bulwarks,moat and castle keep.
Ten centuries on, the Tower’s still there
a long enduring witness where
Kings,Bishops, Knights and Q ueens have died
And lived and fought. Here Warders guide
the modern tourists round this jail,
and fortress-palace. They turn pale
to hear of torture, treason , death
The Traitors Gate-Elizabeth…
The Normans built great churches too
St John’s Church, St Bartholomew
The Temple Church, uniquely round
And many crypts lie underground
The Abbey and St Mary-Bow
Both show Norman work below.

Where to go

There are no longer mammoths in Trafalgar Square but you can learn about prehistoric London in the Museum of London. Here, too you can see Viking artefacts like the runic stone slab pictured above. You can visit the ruins of Mithras temple at Bucklersbury. The Tower of London still stands at Tower Hill. The Temple Church can be visited and the crypts of the Anney and St Mary le Bow. A few Norman traces can be seen of St Johns Priory and you can learn about the Knights in the museum there. The poem continues with the stories of medieval and modern London
World Travels I