Possible Shakespearean Theater Found in London





The theater where "The Merchant of Venice" and "Romeo and Juliet" likely debuted and where William Shakespeare himself may have trodden the boards has likely been discovered in east London, archaeologists at the Museum of London said Wednesday.

The possible foundations of what is known as simply, The Theatre, were unearthed by builders excavating the site — a vacant garage — for another structure. Museum archaeologists were called to the location to make sure nothing was destroyed, and had a eureka moment.

"We were there, scratching our heads, looking into the trenches, thinking, 'this could be it,'" said Jo Lyon, a senior archaeologist at the museum. "So we did some more research, and then we found the angled walls. And we all went, 'Oh my gosh, this should be it.' "

Other theaters of similar vintage also have angled walls, so the discovery was significant. Archaeologists had known for a long time there was a high probability for The Theatre to be on this particular site. But there are no maps that show its location, no images to show what it might have looked like, and only a vague description of it.

"It's in the right place, it's at the right angle to be a polygonal shape," Lyon said. "It's a pretty high possibility."

The possible discovery of The Theatre, built in 1576 and where Shakespeare's troupe performed in the 1590s, could complete the set of open-air theaters where the Bard's plays were staged. The Rose theater's location was discovered in 1989 in Bankside, just south of the River Thames in central London, and the Globe theater is nearby. A replica of the Globe was built on a site close to the original and opened in 1997...



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