Dig outside vape shop will expose glories of Rome hidden beneath pavements of Colchester

ANGLIA 210323 Colchester mosaic
The mosaic is currently hidden under a pavement outside a vape shop. Credit: PA Images

Work has started to unearth a Roman mosaic buried under a pavement outside a vape shop.

The ornate design was originally discovered in the 1980s when services were being installed for the shopping centre in Colchester, but it was then covered back over and remained hidden.

A project to permanently uncover the mosaic at Red Lion Yard and display it beneath glass is now under way, and due to be completed by the end of this summer.

It comes after Colchester, the former capital of Roman Britain, gained city status last year.

People look at the work going on to expose the Roman mosaic in Colchester Credit: PA Images

Martin Leatherdale, centre manager of Lion Walk shopping centre, said that displaying the tile art would help promote the city’s Roman heritage.

The initial dig is outside a vape shop but Mr Leatherdale said that the team, led by Lion Walk and Colchester City Council in partnership with Colchester Archaeological Trust, would be “expanding our hunt”.

“We’re uncovering what’s already been found and we’re also exploring further than that,” he said.

“The amount of traffic and inquiries and engagement that it gets is just off the scale.

“I’ve never seen anything like it. There’s definitely an appetite out there for it.”

It's thought that Colchester may have more mosaics than any other Roman town in the country Credit: PA Images

He said the first stage of investigative works was to “fully understand how much remaining mosaic is underground”.

There would be secondary work to look at the “moisture content of the ground, which needs to be scientifically considered for the encapsulation”, he added.

Philip Crummy, director of Colchester Archaeological Trust, said: “The exposing permanently of part of a decorated Roman mosaic in Colchester is a fantastic idea.

“Over 40 mosaics have been recorded over the past two centuries in Colchester.

“I am fairly sure there are more mosaics in Colchester than any other Roman town in Britain.

“Coloured mosaics are something that people associate with Romans and Colchester is not well enough known for its Roman heritage as it ought to be.

“I look forward to more projects like this”.

David King, leader of Colchester City Council, said: “It is glorious to see our rich history unveiled again.”

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