The Temple of Mithras, Walbrook is a Roman temple whose ruins were discovered in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, during rebuilding work in 1954. It is perhaps the most famous of all twentieth-century Roman discoveries in the City of London. The site was excavated by W. F. Grimes, director of the Museum of London in 1954. The temple, initially hoped to have been an early Christian church, was built in the mid-3rd century and dedicated to Mithras or perhaps jointly to several deities popular among Roman soldiers.
Then it was rededicated, probably to Bacchus, in the early fourth century. Found within the temple, where they had been carefully buried at the time of its rededication, were finely detailed third-century white marble likenesses of Minerva, Mercury the guide of the souls of the dead, and the syncretic gods Mithras and Serapis, imported from Italy. There were several coarser locally-made clay figurines of Venus, combing her hair. The artefacts recovered were put on display in the Museum of London.
Location and Relocation:
The Roman temple, when it was originally built, would have stood on the east bank of the now covered-over River Walbrook, a key freshwater source in Roman Londinium. Nearby, in its former streambed, a small square hammered lead sheet was found, on which an enemy of someone named Martia Martina had inscribed her name backwards and thrown the token into the stream, in a traditional Celtic way of reaching the gods that has preserved metal tokens in rivers throughout Celtic Europe, from the swords at La Tène to Roman times. (Compare wishing well.)
Due to the necessity of building over the site, the whole site was uprooted and moved down the road to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street, London EC4, where the remains of the temple foundations have been reassembled for display to the public. Though the present location is at grade, the original Mithraeum was built partly underground, recalling the cave of Mithras where the Mithraic epiphany took place. The temple foundations are very close to other important sites in the city of London including the historic London Stone, the Bank of England and London Wall.