Book Review – ‘The Deptford Royal Dockyard and Manor of Sayes Court, London: Excavations 2000–12’ by Ann Coats

By Ann Coats, published February 2021


This large-format monograph melds historical narrative and specialist archaeological reports into a very readable account of the ‘largest- ever excavation of a British naval dockyard’ (p. xviii). It is fitting that a leading maritime history journal should review this, as the scope of its archaeological processes and breadth of its findings are indispensable to mainstream maritime history.

The author, Anthony Francis, an archaeologist of 30 years, is a MOLA archaeological project officer, supervising Roman and medieval excavations and directing large, complex multiperiod sites. He directed Deptford Dockyard excavation and wrote its MOL evaluation report (2010) and post-excavation report (2013). He published articles on Tudor excavations and seventeenth- to nineteenth-century industrial and social aspects of Anchor Iron Wharf, Greenwich, in London Archaeologist in 2013. Other archaeologists contribute specialist articles.

For such a densely crafted volume, the short conclusion merely highlights the cultural, national, and technological significance of Deptford Dockyard and Sayes Court. Francis emphasizes the positive correlation of documentary and archaeological evidence in refining chronology, and relates the dockyard to the surrounding community. He regrets the lack of space for detailed accounts of Deptford- built ships, but has written a succinct narrative and inclusive interpretation of the site’s archaeology and history.

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Filed under: Period | Early Modern | Eighteenth Century | Nineteenth Century | Other (Nineteenth C) | Other (Eighteenth C)
Subjects include: Archaeology | Harbours & Dockyards

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