A VAST collection of Roman artefacts which prove the Romans arrived in North Yorkshire ten years earlier than originally believed is to go on show on Monday.

Archaeologists working on the A1 Leeming to Barton project uncovered more than 200,000 finds and sieved more than 84 tonnes of sediment samples. They have found numerous artefacts dating between the prehistoric and Roman periods.

The pieces will make up an exhibition at Richmondshire Museum, in Richmond, on Monday, May 16.

A selection of 50 artefacts from the Roman town at Catterick – formerly Cataractonium - including coins, gaming counters and a perfectly preserved wooden comb, will be on display at the museum until October.

The discoveries featured in the exhibition at Richmondshire Museum include a UK first in the form of a Roman cicada brooch made in Pannonia – a region that today includes parts of Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.

Much of the excavation work focused on sites along the Great North Road – the ancient road which ran adjacent to the current A1 which has been a major route since Roman times.

An archaeological team of about 60 people have been working along the A1 between Leeming Bar and Barton for two years as part of a Highways England scheme to install an extra lane in each direction and improve the route to motorway standards.

Archaeologist Dr Steve Sherlock said: “Scotch Corner has been very interesting - there’s evidence of Romans being there in 60 AD - ten to 15 years earlier than we thought they had arrived in Britain.”

Dr Hannah Russ, from Northern Archaeological Associates, said: “The quality and preservation of the artefacts and environmental remains from this scheme is outstanding.

“We are learning so many new things about the people who were living in the vicinity of the A1 in the past and I am delighted that we are now able to share our discoveries with local people.”

Highways England project manager Tom Howard said: “It is fascinating to discover that nearly 2,000 years ago the Romans were utilising the A1 route as a major road of strategic importance and using the very latest technological innovations from that period.”

“We are doing the same thing today – using the latest technology to improve this important route and significantly reduce journey times.”

Museum officer Zoe Dodds said: “It is such an exciting time for us here at the museum, having such important artefacts and we feel very privileged to know that the exhibition can be accessed by those local people who have been affected most is fantastic.”