The largest excavation undertaken in Leicester for over a decade has been nominated in the Current Archaeology Awards, for ‘Rescue Project of the Year’. The competition is decided by the public, to vote for us click here: http://www.archaeology.co.uk/vote.
The archaeologists from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) shed vivid new light on the city’s Roman past, including evidence of luxurious dwellings, and one of the biggest fragments of mosaic floor found in the city in 150 years. The mosaic was one of the largest and highest-status Roman mosaic floors ever found in the city, it formed part of a large high-status townhouse. The mosaic has been carefully lifted and conserved, and will go on public display again soon.
Dr Gavin Speed, director of the excavation and Project Officer at University of Leicester Archaeological Services said: “We were keen to share this remarkable discovery with as many people as possible, and made the decision to open the site to the public – something that our client was very receptive to, even constructing a special elevated platform to provide a good vantage point from which to look out over the site. Leicester’s citizens responded with great enthusiasm; over 5000 people visited our open weekends and lunchtime tours, as did more than 500 local schoolchildren”.
The project was undertaken using an innovative approach, using cutting edge digital methods like GPS and photogrammetry. This step allowed the team to document the site with much greater precision and detail. As a result, there is now a rich and versatile dataset that contains a wealth of information about Roman Leicester. The team at ULAS can now begin to unpick the detailed site data, to understand more about the Roman buildings that once stood in this part of Leicester, and to help answer some long-standing questions about the city’s past.
The Stibbe project was featured on the cover of Current Archaeology Issue 332 as A Colourful Past: Uncovering Magnificent Mosaics in the Heart of Roman Leicester. Along with the outstanding mosaic, the site also uncovered a possible Roman theatre, Roman streets, and many smaller roadside structures. One of the most impressive finds was an ornately decorated knife / key handle.
The School of Archaeology and Ancient History also have a nomination for ‘Research Project of the Year’, for a project at Stanwick, North Yorkshire. In this project new radiocarbon dates in combination with material evidence from the fortified complex suggest that it was not a focus of resistance against Rome, as was once thought, but instead had earlier Iron Age origins and was most likely a Brigante stronghold, allied with Rome.
The new nominations for the University of Leicester follow on from earlier success. In the past the University was awarded ‘Research Project of the Year’ for the Grey Friars Project and the discovery of Richard III (in 2013), and Dr Richard Buckley (director of ULAS) was awarded ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ in 2014. In 2016 the ULAS / School of Archaeology and Ancient History fieldschool at Burrough Hill Iron Age Hillfort was nominated for ‘Research Project of the Year’. In 2017 ULAS were nominated for Rescue Project of the Year for the excavation of a Roman cemetery in Leicester.
Voting will be open until 5th February 2018 on www.archaeology.co.uk/vote. The winners will be announced at the Current Archaeology Live! 2018 conference, held at the University of London’s Senate House on 23-24 February (more information on the conference can be found here: www.archaeologylive.co.uk).
A video showing the mosaic being revealed and cleaned can be viewed here:
Earlier news on this project can be viewed here: