Largest archaeological excavation in Leicester in over a decade open to public
Members of the public are invited to learn more about Leicester's Roman past as the city's largest excavation site in over 10 years is open to visitors on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 May.
Work is being carried out by University of Leicester Archaeology Services (ULAS) on the former Stibbe factory site, between Great Central Street and Highcross Street in central Leicester. During the open days, Leicester archaeologists will provide guided tours every 30 minutes (on the hour and half past the hour). A selection of the rare finds and artefacts found during the dig will also be on display alongside information boards to provide a glimpse into what Roman life in Leicester was like over 1,500 years ago.
Key discoveries include the remains of one of the largest and highest-status Roman mosaic floors ever found in the city, two Roman streets containing a number of buildings and rare evidence of the first Anglo-Saxon migrants to arrive in the city following the demise of Roman Leicester.
City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby visited the site along with Professor Iain Gillespie, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, on Wednesday 26 April to meet with the archaeologists and learn more about the project.
Since the excavation began in September 2016, the team has uncovered two Roman streets – one east-west and the other north-south, as well as two large high-status Roman houses with evidence for a number of rooms, some of which contain mosaics of varying patterns and designs.
In one room, the team discovered the largest and finest-quality mosaic found in over 150 years in Leicester, made with small cubes of stone and tile (tesserae) throughout. The mosaic is in a room with underfloor heating (hypocaust), probably the principal reception room of a major Roman town house on one of the main streets through Roman Leicester.
Vast quantities of pottery, coins, brooches, beads, hair pins, gaming pieces and manicure objects were found as well as an exceptionally decorated knife handle cast in copper alloy, which seemingly depicts a scene showing victims thrown to the lions in the amphitheatre.
The team has now begun investigating the well-preserved north-south Roman street which extends over 50 metres across the site and found evidence for possible Anglo-Saxon timber structures built close to a Roman building, overlying a Roman street. This relates to the period following the end of Roman Leicester, when Anglo-Saxon migrants arrived from the continent and settled in the ruins of the Roman town in the 5th and 6th centuries AD.
In an interview with the BBC, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby confirmed that the most impressive finds from the dig will form part of a £7m revamp of the nearby Jewry Wall museum.
You can watch as experts move the mosaic so it can later be displayed at Jewry Wall museum.
Due to popular demand, the dig will be open to the public 12-2pm until Friday 12 May