Highgate archaelogist believes historic remains could lie below former St Luke’s Hospital

A former archaeologist from Highgate believes medieval, Roman and even prehistoric remains could be under a former hospital for the mentally ill.

St Luke’s Hospital in Woodside Avenue, Muswell Hill, operated from the mid-1920s but is set to be transformed into a housing estate.

Hanover Housing Trust, behind the development, has carried out its own report which says the area has no “archaeological assets”.

However, Michael Hammerson, of the Highgate Society, believes the site could be significant archaeologically because of its rich history.

“I consider their assessment to be completely inadequate. It suggests to me that they do not care whether there is any undiscovered archaeology on the site which could be destroyed in the development.

“Their comments suggest they appear to either be unaware of this evidence or have disregarded it.

“This could be dangerous and potentially expensive for them in the event that something is found.”

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Records show that nearby Cherry Tree Wood was once part of the Hunting Park of the Bishops of London, dating back to the early 12th century.

At that time the bishops created a huge enclosed park called Great Hornsey Park.

“The land was owned by the church which needed to raise money for its huge running costs,” said Mr Hammerson.

“There would have been houses for the parkers, cottages for the farm workers, sawmills to process the timber from the woods, mills for the grain grown in the fields and accommodation for the hunting bishops and their important guests.

“A huge amount went on and must have left traces throughout the area.”

A spokesman for Hanover Housing Trust said: “Hanover has commissioned an archaeological assessment of the St Luke’s site which will be submitted with the planning application.

“The report says that the site does not contain any designated archaeological assets where there would be a presumption in favour of physical preservation in situ and against development.

“There are no previously recorded undesignated heritage assets of prehistoric or Roman date located within the site.”

Mr Hammerson will present his findings to Haringey Council after the application has been submitted.

* To find out more and to see sections of an original Roman kiln recovered in Highgate Wood, visit Bruce Castle Museum in Lordship Lane, Wood Green.

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