Engineering work replacing a 120 metre section of damaged Victorian sewer in the Toft Green area of York has uncovered a Roman mosaic floor.
The work, which started in early July and was scheduled to take about 12 weeks, was immediately stopped when workers came across the mosaic tiles. A team from the Northern Archaeological Associates (NAA) were called to carry out a detailed study and confirmed that it was a Roman mosaic floor, dating back to the 3rd to 4th centuries AD.
It took two weeks of excavations to remove the floor, with Yorkshire Water liaising with York Council to minimise disruption as much as possible, and the work has now recommenced, due to be completed in October.
During construction work in the 19th century, part of a mosaic showing a bull with a fish tail was discovered in the same area of Toft Green, and this recently found floor may be part of the same mosaic, which is now housed in the Yorkshire Museum.
Richard Fraser, archaeologist at NAA said, “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. If it wasn’t for Yorkshire Water’s responsible approach to its work in historic areas, this important evidence could easily have been missed”.
City of York Council archaeologist John Oxley 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 workman had the foresight to stop work and that everyone has worked together to ensure the safe removal of the floor. Yorkshire Water, Mott Macdonald Bentley and NAA deserve praise for their swift and creative actions”.