Photo: the mosaic is the largest to be discovered in the ancient city for over a hundred years. Image courtesy Lincolnshire County Council.
Building work on the new £10.5 million City and County Museum site in Lincoln has revealed the biggest Roman mosaic found in the city for a century.
The mosaic was unearthed last month during excavations at what will eventually form the goods lift at the new museum site in central Lincoln.
Further work has since unearthed more of the red and white mosaic, which measures approximately four metres square. Experts now believe that it formed the corridor of a luxurious Roman Town House dating from the third or fourth century AD.
"How apt that the building of the new museum should be the means by which such an exciting piece of history is discovered," exclaimed Cllr. Bernard Theobald, Deputy Leader of Lincolnshire County Council and Cultural Services Portfolio Holder.
Photo: archaeological work has been going on at the site since spring 2001, but it wasn't until the end of June that the amazing discovery was made. Image courtesy Lincolnshire County Council.
Following discussions with representatives of English Heritage, it has been decided that the mosaic will be removed from the site and put on display as part of the new museum's Roman display.
Numerous fragments of painted plaster have also been retrieved from the site, indicating that the walls of the corridor were brightly decorated. Such lavish decoration of walls and floors suggests that the owners were very wealthy.
"Lincoln is always likely to produce spectacular archaeological finds and considering how little of the site is being excavated this is a remarkable discovery," explained Cllr. Ric Metcalf, Leader of the City of Lincoln Council.
"I am very pleased to hear that we have been able both to reveal more of this impressive mosaic and to arrange for it to be removed from the site so that it can in due course be appreciated by visitors to the new museum."
Photo: the mosaic will be carefully lifted from its current position, cleaned and put on display when the museum opens in 2005. Image courtesy Lincolnshire County Council.
Excavation work is due for completion at the end of this month and construction work on the new museum is scheduled to begin in late August.
It is hoped that the new building will be ready to open its doors in Spring 2005 when it will replace the City and County Museum's existing premises, which opened in 1906.
Plans were unanimously supported by city and county councillors in December 2000 and since then over £10.5m of funding has been raised from private sponsors, the Heritage Lottery Fund, European Regional Development Fund and East Midlands Development Agency.