A HISTORIC town hall has launched its first exhibition since its refurbishment, giving visitors the chance to explore the fascinating secrets of the Roman gladiators.

Bishop Auckland Town Hall, owned by Durham County Council, opened to the public for the first time on May 17 following its major refurbishment in 2020.

In its first exhibition since the refurbishment, history enthusiasts to the town hall can enjoy Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets exhibition; a touring exhibition from the JORVIK Group of Attractions, operators of the JORVIK Viking Centre in York.

The exhibition hosts a display of archaeological finds, including the skeletal remains of two men which were unearthed in a York Roman-age cemetery in 2004.

Visitors will discover more about the eighty burials which were unearthed at the site and explore whether the two skeletons are the remains of soldiers, criminals, slaves or gladiators through scientific analysis of cut marks, an animal bite and blunt force trauma to the bone.

The skeletons will be at Bishop Auckland Town Hall Gallery from May 29 until August 30, allowing visitors to learn more about Roman life and the mystery of these men’s lives.

Alison Clark, Durham County Council’s head of culture, sport and tourism, said: “We are very excited to finally be able to the host our first exhibition in the newly refurbished Bishop Auckland Town Hall gallery space.

“This fascinating exhibition is just the beginning of the exciting events and activities that will be hosted at the town hall. With our new café space that features a revamped menu using only local produce, the town hall will become a hub for visitors to stop and refresh and learn about Bishop Auckland’s dynamic heritage as well as its economic future.”

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for the JORVIK Group, which is owned and operated by York Archaeological Trust, said: “The Gladiators exhibition uncovers the stories of these men, drawing on historical and archaeological evidence to help us understand who the men were, where they came from as well as how they came to die in the dynamic Roman town of Eboracum.”

The Gladiator: Cemetery of Secrets display runs from Saturday 29 May until Monday August 30 and admission to the exhibition is free.