The Rose Revealed: conserving and presenting an Elizabethan playhouse

Author(s): Kim Stabler

Year: 2014


The Rose Theatre, built in 1587 on London’s Bankside, is a rare archaeological survival. The theatre is one of only a handful of playhouses, and its repertoire included plays by Marlowe, Kyd and Shakespeare. Surviving contemporary account books provide a unique understanding of the Elizabethan stage and players. The theatre was rediscovered during routine investigations prior to the re-development of the site in 1989, and thanks to a vocal grass-roots campaign, it was saved from destruction at the eleventh hour. The exposed two-thirds of the theatre footprint were immediately re-buried and saturated in order to enable the site’s preservation. It now sits in the basement of an office block, flooded, with a small exhibition area and stage. Recently, the Rose Theatre Trust has received a grant from the UK’s Heritage Lottery Fund to develop plans to replace the conservation systems, exhibit the remains appropriately and re-invigorate the Rose as a performance centre. The question is one of balance: how to enable the preservation of the fragile remains, yet at the same time create a meaningful public experience of an internationally significant archaeological site.

Cite this Record

The Rose Revealed: conserving and presenting an Elizabethan playhouse. Kim Stabler. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. 2014 ( tDAR id: 437377)

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Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Society for Historical Archaeology

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): SYM-82,05