Archaeologists have uncovered a Roman temple beneath a former burial ground in the grounds of a cathedral in central England.
Experts at the University of Leicester said on Tuesday they had found a crypt of a Roman building and a fragment of an 1,800-year-old altar stone during excavations in the grounds of Leicester Cathedral.
“The folklore has always been that there was a Roman temple under the cathedral,” said Matthew Morris, director of excavations at the University of Leicester’s Archaeological Service.
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“Until now, there was no way of being able to say what was or was not,” he said, but the new findings suggest that “underneath the cathedral there is definitely a Roman place of worship.”
Morris and his team believe that this crypt, about 10 feet below the ground, was built in the second century. Several pieces of Roman pottery and coins were also found at the site.
The Romans built a fort at Leicester around AD 50, known as Ratae Coriltauvorum.
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The excavation was part of a multi-million pound project to restore Leicester Cathedral, which is thought to have been first built in the 11th century. The cathedral is now home to the tomb of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England and the last English monarch killed in battle. He died in 1485.
An archaeological team from the University of Leicester found the remains of a medieval king in a Leicester city center parking lot a decade ago. He was re-interred in the cathedral in 2015.
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