Free exhibition showcasing Leicester’s Roman past will take place at BBC Radio Leicester studio between 16 – 27 July
University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) in partnership with BBC Radio Leicester are putting on public display for the first time, the newly conserved ‘Stibbe’ Roman mosaic.
The FREE exhibit has been organised as part of the Festival of Leicestershire and Rutland Archaeology which runs for two weeks from Saturday 14th July to Sunday 29th July.
The public can view the mosaics at BBC Radio Leicester throughout the Festival, Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm.
In 2017, thousands of people queued for hours to see the Roman mosaics being excavated at the old Stibbe factory between Highcross Street and Great Central Street in Leicester. The excavation unearthed major new evidence of Roman Leicester including one of the largest and finest pieces of mosaic to be discovered in the city for over 150 years. This was found within the remains of a large Roman townhouse which once fronted onto a main street leading through the town. Many of its rooms still contained evidence for ornate decoration including painted walls and mosaic floors. One room, probably a principal reception room, had a mosaic floor of outstanding quality.
Decorated with complex geometric patterns, it is one of the finest mosaics yet found in Leicester, showing quality and workmanship comparable to the Blackfriars and Peacock pavements which were found in the town in the 19th century. The mosaic pavement was extensively truncated by medieval pits and a 1950s cellar but enough survives for us to reconstruct a surface which originally would have stretched 10m in length and 6m in width. As part of the project, a team of conservators carefully lifted and conserved the mosaic in preparation for it being put on public display.
Richard Buckley, Director of ULAS said: “The mosaic is a significant discovery for Leicester and we were thrilled that so many people wanted to see it when it was first discovered. We are delighted to be able to work with Radio Leicester to provide this fantastic opportunity to showcase Leicester’s Roman past and allow the public to see the mosaic again now that it has been conserved.”
Kamlesh Purohit, assistant editor of BBC Radio Leicester, comments: “We are thrilled to be showcasing these wonderful mosaics in our public space. We are literally hosting a piece of history that was so fundamentally Leicester. It’s great that those who didn’t get a chance to see the mosaics previously get another chance and our doors are open to everyone.”
The excavation and conservation was funded by Charles Street Building Group who are developing the site. Conservation of the mosaic was carried out by Skillington Workshop Ltd.
The mosaic will be exhibited on the ground floor of BBC Radio Leicester, 9 St Nicholas Place, Leicester LE1 5LB. Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm (16th – 27th July).
The Festival of Leicestershire and Rutland Archaeology – the biggest in Britain – runs from July 14th to 29th with over 80 events across Leicestershire and Rutland. The Festival covers all aspects of local archaeology from Iron Age hillforts to Roman mosaics, Vikings in the East Midlands, the recent Bradgate Park excavations and the Glenfield railway tunnel. There is something for everyone, with guided walks, talks, displays and exhibitions and family friendly events at museums and historic sites across the city and the two counties. Leaflets are widely available or the programme can be found on line at http://leicsfieldworkers.co.uk/latest-news/festival-of-archaeology/