leicester Western Road cemetery
Buried between road and river
Investigating a Roman cemetery in Leicester
Until recently, Leicester’s Roman cemeteries had seen little major excavation, and their burial practices were poorly understood. Now an investigation in the city’s West End has given a wealth of new insights into the Roman town’s diverse population, as Mathew Morris reveals.
Today, if you stand amid the Victorian terracing, the old factories, and the student bars in Leicester’s West End, it can be hard to imagine that only 150 years ago the area was still largely countryside. Yet centuries before that, this open space had proved a handy place for earlier communities to bury their dead, as the modern-day street names attest. Roman Street, Saxon Street: these labels recall the discoveries made by workmen in the 1890s of skeletons that had been buried in the vicinity with artefacts from those periods.
Accidental – and frequently poorly recorded – antiquarian finds in the 19th and early 20th centuries make it clear that there were large Roman cemeteries to the south, east, and west of the town, but until the early 1990s Leicester’s Roman funerary practices were poorly
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October 2016 |