An ornate Roman mosaic is being unearthed and is set to go on permanent public display in situ just outside a vape shop in a shopping center in the city of Colchester, England.
The ancient work of art was first found in the 1980s during works on the Lion Walk Shopping Centre in Red Lion Yard, Colchester, but was soon covered back up again. Now, a special project led by the shopping center and Colchester City Council is hoping to finally unveil the mosaic and allow local residents to enjoy it from beneath a protective glass cover.
“We’re uncovering what’s already been found and we’re also exploring further,” revealed Lion Walk’s center manager, Martin Leatherdale, about the dig, which is being carried out in partnership with Colchester Archaeological Trust.
The initial investigation that is currently taking place should hopefully allow the team to “fully understand how much remaining mosaic is underground,” which extends beyond what has previously been uncovered in modern history.
If a royal visit wasn’t enough, we’ve discovered a piece of history that’s been buried beneath our city for almost 2,000 years! 😲
We are working with @colchestercitycouncil and colch_archaeological_trust to excavate and preserve this artwork. pic.twitter.com/jNUON7NL2N
— Lion Walk (@ShopLionWalk) March 21, 2023
According to a report in the region’s , small crowds have been forming around the archaeological dig, which is taking place inside the shopping arcade. With each passing hour more of the mosaic is being unveiled.
“The amount of traffic and inquiries and engagement that it gets is just off the scale. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Leatherdale added. “There’s definitely an appetite out there for it.”
Colchester in Essex was the capital of Britain during Roman times. According to Philip Crummy, director of Colchester Archeological Trust, over 40 mosaics have been recorded there, perhaps more than anywhere else in the U.K.
“Colchester is not well enough known for its Roman heritage as it ought to be,” he said.
“It is glorious to see our rich history unveiled again,” added David King, leader of Colchester City Council. If everything goes to plan, the mosaic will be publicly visible by the end of the summer.