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Roman mosaic found during sewer works

Engineers repairing a York sewer found more than they bargained for when they uncovered a Roman mosaic floor. 

Mags Felter prepares to lift a sample of the Roman mosaic at Toft Green [Credit: York Press]
A 120-metre section of damaged Victorian sewer in Toft Green was in the process of being replaced when workers spotted the mosaic tiles. 

Work immediately stopped and a team of archaeologists stepped in to carry out a detailed study of the site, confirming that engineers had stumbled upon a Roman mosaic floor, dating back to the 3rd to 4th Centuries AD. 

After two weeks of excavations the floor has been painstakingly removed.  

Richard Fraser, archaeologist at Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA), said: “Once the tell-tale signs of the Roman tiles began to appear, Yorkshire Water stopped work so that we could fully excavate the site and record the remains. 

Archaeologist Helen Noakes excavates Roman layers preserved in the side of a trench section at Toft Green [Credit: York Press]
“It’s a very interesting site, helping us to understand the extent of Roman activity in the area. Part of a mosaic showing a bull with a fish tail was discovered in this area of Toft Green during construction work in the 19th century. 

“This newly discovered section may be part of the same mosaic and the excavation will provide important new information about the earlier find, which is now in the Yorkshire Museum.  

“It had been thought that the Victorian sewer had largely removed the earlier Roman remains here, but the work has demonstrated that some sections were tunnelled and pockets of archaeology survive above these sections.” 

John Oxley, City of York Council archaeologist, said: “It’s not surprising that there has been a find like this due to the rich history this city is steeped in. I am very pleased that workmen had the foresight to stop work and that everyone has worked together to ensure the safe removal of the floor.”

Author: Kate Liptrot | Source: The York Press [August 11, 2012]

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