Roman altar discovered in York

Archaeologists discovered an ancient Roman altar while monitoring a development of a retirement home within the area of the Medieval walls in central York, Northern England.

The Roman altar (by Wessex Archaeology Online)

According to the archaeologists the artefact was spotted amidst the upcast generated when a service trench was excavated through a backfilled Victorian cellar. Researchers state that the workmanship of the 40-centimetre high artefact appears rather crude, and the sculptor was probably as native as the millstone grit from which it is carved. Although the altar lacks an inscription on its front, a design can be seen on one side. The carvings consist of a patera used as a libation bowl, and handled jug. A deep bowl has been carved into the top of the object, and it has been suggested that the artefact was re-purposed as a garden planter or bird bath in more recent times.

Side of the altar (by Wessex Archaeology Online)

(after Wessex Archaeology Online)

1 Comment

  1. // Reply

    This bit of Roman altar was dug out of the ground by a ground worker and his excavator in 2017 on the building site I was working on. There wasn’t an archaeologist on site when this was discovered as suggested in the description. There is damage from the teeth of the excavator on one side, and the ground worker announced he was taking it home to use as a bird bath or ornament in his garden…(this is probably where the suggestion of it being used as a bird bath or garden planter came from, it never was, it was dug up)…I went and told the site manager, and decided to rescue it. We quickly spirited it away in a lockup, then phoned the archaeologist. He came and picked it up, and the rest as they say is history.

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