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HomeGreek PhilosphyAncient Roman Shrine And Over 1,100 Burials Found Beneath The Leicester Cathedral

Ancient Roman Shrine And Over 1,100 Burials Found Beneath The Leicester Cathedral

Conny Waters – AncientPages.com – Archaeologists at Leicester Cathedral have completed the excavation undertaking and reported discovering an historic Roman shrine and over 1,100 burials.

The archaeological undertaking began in October 2021. Although it was a modest-sized space, the dig has produced a outstanding quantity of archaeological data, permitting us to inform the story of an space of Leicester we not often get the chance to research.

“When scientists started the undertaking, they’d a number of key analysis questions, together with when was the parish church of St Martin based and what was occurring on the location within the Roman interval.

ncient Roman Shrine And Over 1,100 Burials Found Beneath The Leicester Cathedral

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester excavate medieval burials at Leicester Cathedral. Image: ULAS

“Our excavations have uncovered over 1,100 burials ranging in date from the eleventh century by means of to the mid-Nineteenth century, and we are able to now be assured that St Martins was based within the late Saxon interval.

These burials will now be analyzed, and the outcomes will give us a singular perception into the lives of the residents of Leicester who’ve been buried right here over the previous 1000 years. It can also be vital to notice, as soon as the undertaking is accomplished, all human stays shall be reinterred with care and sensitivity by Leicester Cathedral,” the researchers stated in a press assertion.

“We have additionally uncovered uncommon proof from the Anglo-Saxon interval, together with a possible constructing and the primary Anglo-Saxon coin present in Leicester in almost 20 years. If the constructing does show to be Anglo-Saxon, will probably be the primary proof of a construction of this era on this a part of Leicester and can recommend post-Roman occupation contained in the city was extra intensive than beforehand suspected.

In the north-west quarter of the location we’ve additionally discovered the cellar to a Roman constructing. From it we’ve recovered the bottom of an altar stone and this may recommend that this room was a shrine or a cult room within the Roman interval,” archaeologists clarify.

The cellar is a well-made semi-subterranean construction with painted stone partitions and a concrete ground. Today, that ground is over 3m under the bottom, and it will have been round a meter under the up to date Roman floor floor. The ornamental paintwork means that the area, measuring about 4 by 4 metres, would have been used as a reception room somewhat than as a spot of storage, doubtlessly inside a bigger constructing similar to a townhouse which is generally to the west of the cellar although that will by no means be confirmed.

ncient Roman Shrine And Over 1,100 Burials Found Beneath The Leicester Cathedral

A silver Anglo-Saxon penny (c.AD 880-973). Image: ULAS

The sunken room was most likely constructed within the 2nd century AD and was accessed within the south-west nook through an exterior passageway. This had timber partitions and a flagstone ground. The cellar was intentionally dismantled and infilled, most likely within the late third or 4th century, and inside the area, mendacity damaged and face down amidst the rubble, we discovered the bottom to an altar stone. It is carved from native Dane Hills sandstone, quarried 1 mile west of the location close to Western Park, and measures 25cm by 15cm. There are ornamental mouldings on three sides and the again is obvious, exhibiting that it will have been positioned towards a wall. Originally, it will have stood larger than it was vast, maybe round 60cm tall, however it’s damaged mid-shaft and the higher a part of the pedestal and the capital are lacking.

ncient Roman Shrine And Over 1,100 Burials Found Beneath The Leicester Cathedral

The Roman altar stone discovered throughout archaeological excavations at Leicester Cathedral. Image: ULAS

Given the mix of a subterranean construction with painted partitions and the altar we’ve discovered, one interpretation, which appeared to develop in power as we excavated extra, could possibly be that this was a room linked with the worship of a god or gods. What we’re possible here’s a non-public place of worship, both a household shrine or a cult room the place a small group of people shared in non-public worship.

Underground chambers like this have typically been linked with fertility and thriller cults and the worship of gods similar to Mithras, Cybele, Bacchus, Dionysius and the Egyptian goddess Isis. Sadly, no proof of an inscription survived on our altar, however it will have been the first focus for sacrifice and choices to the gods, and a key a part of their non secular ceremonies.

The discovery of a Roman altar at Leicester Cathedral, the primary to ever be present in Leicester, is an incredible discover for the Leicester Cathedral Revealed undertaking. For centuries there was a convention {that a} Roman temple as soon as stood on the location of the current Cathedral.

See additionally: More Archaeology News

This people story gained vast acceptance within the late Nineteenth century when a Roman constructing was found through the rebuilding of the church tower. The origins of this story have all the time been unclear however provided that we’ve discovered a possible Roman shrine, together with burials intentionally interred into the highest of it after it was demolished, after which the church and its burial floor on high of that, are we seeing a reminiscence of this web site being particular within the Roman interval that has survived to the current day?

We might by no means know, however the subsequent stage of the undertaking, the evaluation of the burials, will assist us discover extra solutions,” the analysis staff says.

Written by Conny Waters – AncientPages.com Staff Writer


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