A SECTION of Roman Road has been discovered beneath York Minster.

Archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust unearthed it during construction work on the new visitor development in the Undercroft, a Minster spokeswoman said today.

The archaeologists believe the road was a backstreet, part of the Via Quintana, and believe it ran behind the Roman basilica that once stood on the Minster site.

A Minster spokeswoman said: "The backstreet was used for hundreds of years and was frequently patched and repaired, falling into disuse at the same time as the Basilica itself."

The Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, said: “While it was not as grandly paved as the main streets of Roman York, you can imagine that this backstreet, situated as it was between the Basilica and the Praetorium, was exactly the kind of place where the real business of the Empire was done. It probably even witnessed the very first Christians on their way to worship.”

Ian Milsted, lead archaeologist from York Archaeological Trust, said: “Before this, there had been no archaeological excavations at York Minster for over 40 years, so it’s a huge privilege to be revealing pieces of the past in such an iconic building, all of it contributing to our picture of life in ancient York.’’

The Minster spokeswoman said the section of road would allow more analysis of remains found before, and the archaeological analysis on all this year’s Minster excavations will be released in February.

The new visitor attraction will be launched next summer and special events and activities are also planned as part of the Jorvik Viking Festival, with York Archaeological Trust.