Today is ULAS’s last day in 2022 digging at Leicester Cathedral, we will be back in the New Year to wrap up the excavation by mid-February if all goes to plan. Whilst the team shuts down the site for the Christmas break, excavation director Mathew Morris reveals some of the latest discoveries from the site.
In most of the excavation area, we are now below the burial soil and excavating features which pre-date the church. We are still finding burials which are in graves which have been dug deep into the underlying archaeology. These are potentially very significant in telling the story of St Martin’s foundation as a church but we will focus on these in a later blog. We have also started excavating the Roman archaeology and I thought that for this final blog before Christmas I would move away from death and burial and showcase some of the Roman artefacts we have found so far.
For the most part, the Roman archaeology in this part of Leicester appears to represent outdoor activity, mostly garden soils and gravelled yard surfaces. The soils are producing large quantities of domestic waste, including broken pottery, animal bone, oyster shells and a range of more unique artefacts. The pottery and animal bone were probably introduced to the soil with more organic compost from a nearby midden (refuse heap) whilst some of the other artefacts, including coins and jewellery, may have been lost by people using the open space. This is consistent with this area being part of the backgarden of a townhouse which would have fronted onto a street either to the north of the dig site (where we know there was a Roman building beneath the Cathedral) or to the east.
Gallery of finds (click on each image to see it in more detail).
Sadly, Christmas also marks the end of our Wednesday afternoon public tours at the Cathedral. It has been fantastic to be able to open the site up to so many people from the local community and to share what we have been finding live but we now need to knuckle down and finish the excavation. This isn’t the end of our outreach, however, and you can keep following the archaeological project here via our blogs (find them all here), the Leicester Cathedral Revealed project director’s updates page, on our social media pages and via the timelapse video, which updates monthly. Check out the November time-lapse below.
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Leicester Cathedral Revealed is a £12.7m restoration of the Grade II* Cathedral, supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund. Find out more about the project at https://leicestercathedral.org/