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York Roman Remains To Head to Museum

Yorkshire Water Roman Mosaic 2 180113

3:25pm 18th January 2013

Roman remains found by Yorkshire Water’s contractors while replacing a pipe in York are being conserved so that they can be displayed in the Yorkshire Museum.

Yorkshire Water Roman Mosaic 1 180113

A decorative floor mosaic was found in-situ, meaning it would have been walked on by Romans in that exact spot 2,000 years ago. Combined with the painted wall plaster also found at the site in the Toft Green area, the remains indicate that a high-status building occupied the site twenty centuries ago.

Yorkshire Water Roman Mosaic 2 180113

Archaeologists spent three months excavating the important remains, and found numerous other items at the same time. A selection of coins is waiting to be examined by experts and will help date the demolition of the building, while an everyday bone hair pin was also found.

Lee Laherty, project manager for Yorkshire Water comments, “We dig a different kind of trench to those dug by archaeologists but we always know that working in York brings with it the chance of finding something special.

“We’re delighted that the mosaic and other finds are being preserved to help tell the story of the Roman city of Eboracum for future generations.”

Oliver Cooper, project manager for Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA), which excavated the finds and are now preserving them said: “The chances of finding a mosaic like this in-situ are incredibly slim in York because of all the previous development, so this was a very exciting project to work on.

“We know this area was mainly home to retired soldiers and the mosaic and painted plaster together indicate a high status building – perhaps either a home or an official building. It may also have been part of a temple: the Victorians found a stone describing the construction of a temple dedicated to the god Serapis nearby.

“We’re lucky to be able to preserve this and the other finds, and to record what they tell us about the city, as previous generations – mainly the Victorians - didn’t take the serious approach to learning from archaeological finds that we do.”

The NAA team were on site with Yorkshire Water’s contractors, Mott Macdonald Bentley, from the start of the project to replace a 120 metre section of damaged pipe, due to the high likelihood of there being archaeological finds.

Part of a mosaic showing a bull with a fish tail was discovered in this area of Toft Green during construction work in the 19th century. This dated to the 3rd or 4th century AD, which is towards the end of the Roman occupation of York. It could be that this new find is part of the same building.

Work to replace the pipe finished in November, but the work to conserve the finds for future generations continues.

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