A SOLID link to the real Roman past has been uncovered beneath one of the region’s greatest places of worship.
During construction work for a new visitor development in the undercroft of York Minster a team of archaeologists have unearthed an intact section of Roman road.
The road is believed to have been a backstreet, part of the old Via Quintana, which ran behind the Roman basilica on the site where the medieval Minster now sits.
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The backstreet was used for hundreds of years and was frequently patched and repaired, falling into disuse at the same time as the basilica itself.
The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said, “While it was not as grandly paved as the main streets of Roman York, you can imagine that this backstreet, situated as it was between the Basilica and the Praetorium, was exactly the kind of place where the real business of the Empire was done.
“It probably even witnessed the very first Christians on their way to worship.”
The development of new visitor displays in the undercroft has given archaeologists a rare opportunity to investigate York Minster’s earliest layers of history.
And the newly discovered section of road will allow further analysis of the remains found in previous excavations.
The lead member of the York Archaeological Trust team, Ian Milsted, said: “Before this, there had been no archaeological excavations at York Minster for over 40 years, so it’s a huge privilege to be revealing pieces of the past in such an iconic building, all of it contributing to our picture of life in ancient York.’’
The Roman road is one of the many stories about the Minster’s ancient past which will be revealed next February when the archaeological analysis on all of this year’s excavations is released.
A series of special events and activities is also planned as part of next year’s Jorvik Viking Festival, in partnership with York Archaeological Trust.
For more information visit yorkminster.org