Roman road unearthed beneath York Minster

image captionThe road is thought to have been a backstreet close to the centre of Roman York

Archaeologists have unearthed a section of Roman road beneath York Minster.

The road was found during construction work for new visitor displays in the medieval minster's undercroft.

The York Archaeological Trust said the road was probably a backstreet that ran behind the Roman basilica, the site the minster sits on.

The work in the undercroft is part of the £10.5m York Minster Revealed project due to be completed in May 2015.

It is the first time for 40 years that archaeologists have been permitted to work at the cathedral.

Patched and repaired

Ian Milsted, lead archaeologist at the trust, said: "It's a huge privilege to be revealing pieces of the past in such an iconic building, all of it contributing to our picture of life in ancient York."

He added the street, probably part of the Via Quintana, would have been used for several centuries and appears to have been frequently patched and repaired.

Roman York (Eboracum) was founded in AD71 and remained a major military and economic hub in Roman Britain until the early 5th Century.

The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: "While it was not as grandly paved as the main streets of Roman York, you can imagine that this backstreet, situated as it was between the Basilica and the Praetorium, was exactly the kind of place where the real business of the empire was done.

"It probably even witnessed the very first Christians on their way to worship."

Archaeological analysis of all that York Archaeological Trust has uncovered during its work, including human remains found in March, will be published in February 2013.

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