Minories, a City of London street leading from Tower Hill to Aldgate, takes its name from the Minoresses (nuns) who had an abbey here in the middle ages. However, its history goes back much farther than that, as evidenced by an extraordinary recent find. Excavating the site of a new hotel development, Museum of London Archaeology discovered an eagle and snake on the final day of the dig.
The Roman sculpture was carved in the first century, from Cotswold limestone. It has survived in remarkably fine condition, intact except for a broken wing and with details still sharply delineated. Indeed, it's the best example we have of Romano-British carving.
The eagle seems to have adorned the mausoleum of a prominent Londoner, functioning as a symbol of power and good. As for the serpent, it represents evil - and has a rather unlikely set of teeth. Archaeologist Michael Marshall told the Guardian that 'We did have a go at identifying the species of snake when we had some zoologists in – but they just said 'it's a snake'.'
When the mausoleum was demolished, its centrepiece was thrown into a muddy ditch where it lay for the next nineteen centuries. Discovered just a month ago, the sculpture is now on display in the Museum of London's Roman galleries for the next six months. Go, and meet its haughty gaze!