Further links to the York’s Roman past have just been discovered beneath York Minster.
During construction work on the new visitor development in the Undercroft, to be launched next summer, archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust unearthed a section of Roman road.
The road is believed to have been a backstreet, part of the Via Quintana, running behind the Roman basilica under which the medieval Minster now sits. 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 commented, “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 newly discovered section of road will allow further analysis of the remains found in previous excavations. The development of new visitor displays in the Undercroft, part of the major York Minster Revealed project, has given archaeologists a rare opportunity to investigate York Minster’s earliest layers of history. The Roman road is just one of the many stories about York Minster’s ancient past, which will be revealed in February 2013 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 the Jorvik Viking Festival, in partnership with York Archaeological Trust.
Ian Milsted, Lead Archaeologist from York Archaeological Trust explains, “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.”