'Today, thousands of bustling bankers pound up and down Queen Victoria Street in the City of London, without realising that London’s greatest Roman temple lies 23ft below them.
Some 1,800 years ago, that temple would have been crammed with dozens of sweaty Roman legionaries, slaves and merchants, worshipping the ancient Persian god, Mithras.
New worshippers — male only — were made to stand naked in the middle of the temple. As part of a blood-curdling ritual, they were given the impression they were about to be killed. A naked new recruit would kneel down, while a long-term member stood above him, his sword raised, as if to slice his head off. Other new members would be threatened by archers.
To make it look like other members had already been mutilated, one had a ceremonial sword piercing straight through his neck; on closer examination, it turned out to be like one of those joke-shop gags, a metal collar that, in fact, fitted round the neck. There was probably heavy drinking, too.'
Read More: Blood-soaked Roman temple beneath the City: 2,000 years ago, it was the scene of daily sacrifices. Today, after a restoration in vaults of £1bn office in the Square Mile, it's set to become London's latest tourist attraction