Archaeologists discover evidence of Roman and medieval Leicester

Archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have unearthed new evidence of Roman and medieval Leicester after recently completing the excavation of two areas at the former Southgates Bus Depot, on the corner of Southgates and Peacock Lane in the centre of Leicester.

Archaeologists, led by John Thomas and Mathew Morris of ULAS, have been investigating a series of medieval and post-medieval backyards dating from the 12th century through to the 16th century. These are likely to be associated with densely packed houses and shops which would have once fronted onto the important medieval street of Southgates.

Evidence recorded includes stone-lined pits (possibly storage pits or cisterns), rubbish pits, latrines, wells, boundary walls and a possible late 15th or 16th century cellar. Such activity, and the evidence carefully collected and recorded from it, will give important new insights into the lifestyles and industry of the people living along one of Leicester’s principal medieval streets.

A wide array of artefacts have been recovered during the excavation, including coins, fine table ware, a copper spoon, game counters, a number of bone hair pins and other pieces of jewellery. This suggests that Roman activity in the area was predominately domestic in nature with some industrial activity going on in the vicinity in the later Roman period.

The project is funded by property developer Viridis and the University team has been working closely with them and their contractors WinVic to complete the archaeological investigation before construction of new student apartments begins.

The site lies at the heart of Leicester’s historic core, close to significant Roman and medieval sites such as the Roman forum and the Jewry Wall Roman public baths as well as the site of Grey Friars, the medieval Franciscan friary where the remains of King Richard III (d.1485) were discovered by University archaeologists in 2012.