Wednesday, June 16, 1999 Published at 13:15 GMT 14:15 UK
Ancient London banana unpeeled
The blackened banana is handled with great care
Archaeologists in London have discovered what they believe is the oldest banana in the UK - in a Tudor rubbish tip.
A spokeswoman said: "As far as we know this is the oldest banana in Britain. There is no evidence, as far as know, of bananas being brought to this country until 1633 and so it is around 200 years early."
He thought it unlikely that the fruit was a curiosity brought in as a gift to someone important because it had been thrown into a public rubbish dump.
One theory is that bananas were relatively common in Tudor England, in which case they would have been eaten when they were over-ripe since it took weeks for them to be shipped over from Africa.
"It may be that they have actually made references to exotic fruits - they might not have called it a banana," Mr Thurley told the BBC's World Tonight, "and it might not have looked like a banana looks today."
The banana skin has yet to be carbon-dated but since it was found on a historical site that had not been disturbed before, museum staff are sure it is not simply a piece of modern-day London litter.
Objects 'bring London to life'
The find is one of several objects uncovered from disused medieval fish tanks at London Bridge City. They include items of clothing, rare armour, tools, a bowling ball, a musical instrument like a bagpipe and the remains of a medieval boat.
"We've found a whole range of Tudor objects that suddenly bring life in London alive," said Mr Thurley.
The discoveries, which give a unique insight into Tudor London, are on display in a special underwater unit at the Museum of London until 9 July.
The collection has been billed as the best preserved and most complete discovery of Tudor items ever.