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Ratae - Regional Roman Capital
06-06-2017

It was in my first year as a student at the University of Leicester, back in 1960, that I paid sixpence in old money (I think it was) to go down into a cellar beneath what is now the Holiday Inn. My purpose was to view a spectacular Roman mosaic. This mosaic can now be seen in the Jewry Wall Museum. Currently, archaeologists are uncovering yet more evidence of the size of the Roman town of Ratae Coritanorum. This is taking place on the site of the old Stibbe Factory on Great Central Street.

Ratae RuinsThis latest 'dig' has proved immensely popular with local people who, when the site was opened to the public at the beginning of May, were queuing round the block to view the latest discovery. As a result more and more opening times had to be added over the next couple of weeks

In addition to this other significant mosaic, the Stibbe workings have uncovered the remains of two substantial Roman buildings which provide extra evidence that the city was considerably more than merely a crossing point for the Fosse Way across the River Soar.

It is now clear that our city was a regional capital of some importance. We know that the Jewry Wall is reputed to be the tallest Roman structural remains above ground in Britain. Indeed the growing number of visitors to Leicester, in the aftermath of the discovery of King Richard's remains, (and also, dare one say it, the historic Premier League victory of Leicester City!) are proving to be very impressed with the mounting evidence of our Roman heritage.

Certainly the queues to visit this latest site last month clearly shows the mounting interest amongst local residents in the history of our city.

I understand that local archaeologists and students involved in the work are delighted with the enthusiasm  shown by the public. It makes me wonder whether there are yet more treasures to be found in some cellar elsewhere under our city streets. 

Roger Blackmore

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