London’s Buried Diggers

Jul 24, 2014

Buried DiggerIf you are considering adding a new room or considering major renovations to your home, then chances are you will need to renovate your basement or make alterations to your foundations in some form or another.

When you start renovating and digging foundations, you might just be amazed at what you find. We all know about the grizzly skeletal remains that are found from time to time or the strange prehistoric creatures that are found by accident, but what is in store for the archaeologists of the future may be more baffling that all of the bizarre findings we’ve made to date.

In a recent article published in the New Statesman, it turns out there could be more than just buried treasure in your basement – assuming you lived in the upper suburbs of London, of course.

Apparently from the 1990s, as a result of a major property boom in the areas surrounding London, property owners were eager to upgrade their properties. In an effort to add extra amenities to these tiny and yet stately homes, most of the renovations required adding on the property by adding basement rooms or strengthening the current foundations.

Due to the small size of the properties and the necessary renovation work needed, diggers were often used in the construction or renovation process. These small construction vehicles were the only construction vehicles small enough to fit onto the tiny London properties and they were the only vehicles able to dig the holes necessary for the renovations.

Burying a New Kind of Treasure

However, due to their tiny size and the limited access to the construction site, it was often more trouble than it was worth to remove the diggers from the location once the new basement or foundations had been completed.

And so it apparently became easier, more cost effective and less time consuming to actually bury the diggers in the newly dug foundations. It would cost more and take up valuable time to try to recover the diggers. Recovery entailed hiring expensive cranes and then waiting for the cranes to arrive – not to mention closing the street while the crane was recovering the digger.

As the value of these properties were soaring and a million or two in profit was not uncommon, it seemed a waste of money to wait for the cranes and so diggers were buried under a mound of concrete and became a part of the new house.

As a consequence, it may not be uncommon in a hundred years’ time to find these quaint but rather odd treasures buried within the foundations of many of the upmarket houses located around London. Of course, finding a digger buried in the basement is far less sinister than finding skeletal remains, but it would nonetheless be fun to see what future archaeologists make of this new and strange habit.

And this practice is by no means an isolated case either. There are assumed to be between 500 and 1000 diggers still buried under recently renovated London homes.