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Shakespeare's "Rose" was a bear pit – University of Reading

Release Date : 11 June 2004

The Rose Theatre - one of two places in Elizabethan London where one could see Shakespeare and Marlowe performed - seems to have started life as a bear-pit, according to research published in the latest issue of 'Antiquity', one of the world's premier journals for archaeological research. This is one of the deductions drawn from a new study of the archive from the excavations of 1989. Authors architect Jon Greenfield and Professor Andrew Gurr, of the University's Department of English, also present a new model for the theatre's evolution, offer a new reconstruction of the building in its heyday and put in a powerful plea for more archaeological investigation on the ground. The site of The Rose was first uncovered 14 years ago and has since become a meeting-place for actors, architects, theatre designers and historians of early theatre, a multitude of enthusiasts for Shakespeare and Marlowe, and of course the archaeologists who recorded the remains for the Museum of London Archaeology Service (MoLAS), Julian Bowsher and Simon Blatherwick. Key designers of the replica of the neighbouring Globe theatre, namely Jon Greenfield the architect and Peter McCurdy the master carpenter, and historians such as John Orrell and Andrew Gurr have converged on the archaeologists and their evidence in the hope of learning more about the theatre where almost all of Marlowe's and at least two of Shakespeare's plays were staged (1 Henry VI and Titus Andronicus), and where possibly Shakespeare himself acted. The new analysis shows how the theatre was created and developed during its short life on the south bank of the Thames. End Notes for editors -For further information please contact Martin Carver at Antiquity, King's Manor, York YO1 7EP, UK. Tel/fax: (+44) (0) 1904 433994. Email: Website: -A .pdf of this article is available. Please contact Kate Wescombe at the above telephone number, or via email at


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