Suddenly, says Francis Grew, senior curator at the Museum of
London, there was "huge interest" in the find.
"We can say with some confidence that this is the latest
scientifically dated burial from Roman London," he says.
Just metres away from where the coffin was discovered was
something else which, if dug up in the garden, would probably be
thrown away - a squashed, grey pot, hand-moulded, not made on a
wheel, and with a crude decoration of lines and punch-marks.
"I assembled all the finds, laid out on a table for the first
time," says Mr Grew, "and I got specialists from different fields
and said: 'Tell me what you think of all this'."
He expected the Anglo-Saxon experts to show interest in the
later Saxon jewellery found on the site.
Instead they went straight for the pot lying in fragments - grey
and nondescript but massively important.
A type of pottery used by the earliest Saxon immigrants from
northern Germany, it is dated to about AD 500 - the earliest
near-complete Saxon pot to have been discovered in Central London.
This made the St Martin's dig hugely significant, shining a new
light on the mystery of London's lost centuries.
Plenty happened in London in the 450 years following the end of
Roman rule in 410. It became the seat of an English bishopric. Bede
in the 730s called it "a mart of many nations".