Return to the Mithraeum

20 Jan

58 years after it was dumped in a disused car park, London’s temple of Mithras, uncovered in 1954 after 1700 years or so underground, is to be returned to its rightful position, in a sunken grotto on the bank of what was once the Walbrook river. [see London's Lost Rivers by Tom Bolton for more on the Walbrook].

From the Guardian:

When the reconstruction opened [in 1962], it was hailed as a triumph, but the archaeologists knew that was far from true. The beautiful carvings went to the museum [of London], but the other stones were dumped in a churchyard without being properly recorded or numbered, then moved to a builder’s yard. When the time came to put the temple back together again – without any archaeologists involved – some of the stone was missing completely, though the builders assured they could locate extra Kentish ragstone to fill any gaps.

The temple originally had a sunken nave flanked by seven symbolic pairs of pillars leading to the altar, a ritual well and raised seating on either side. It was rebuilt all on one level. A structure where worshippers were gradually initiated into mysteries through darkness and fire lay exposed to the elements on top of a car park. And a wild decision was taken to fill in the floor with crazy paving, giving it the appearance of a suburban back garden feature.

In January 2011, the English Heretic, Andy Sharp, and I, conducted a pilgrimage to the original mithraeum site,  recording ambient sound along the way. These were then processed into the first presentation of  Magick Concrète.

Now, I’d hate to suggest that our actions somehow nudged the tracks of time onto a parallel course when the temple was never moved… but we did… or at least we soon shall have. So as a celebration of the temple’s forthcoming return to subterranean splendour, we inflatedly present –

Do They Know it’s Mithras? by Magick Concrète:

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