A TWO-year archaeological dig at Rougier Street and a new Eboracum museum could do for York's Roman history what Jorvik did for the Vikings, says the boss of York Archaeological Trust.

Speaking as redesigned plans for the 'Roman Quarter' were submitted to city planners, the trust's chief executive David Jennings said the dig and museum could 're-ignite excitement about York's Roman history'.

"If we want the people of York to conserve and look after their past, they have to know something about it," he said. A Roman dig in which members of the public could get involved would achieve just that, he said.

"Look at the evidence of what happened during the Coppergate excavation. It meant that people cherished their Viking past. We want to re-ignite that excitement about York's Roman origins."

York Press:

The original Coppergate dig generated huge interest in the Vikings

Redesigned plans for the Roman Quarter have been lodged with the council, almost a year after city planners sensationally threw out the original proposals on the grounds that the proposed 10-storey new building on Rougier Street was too big and too 'monolithic'.

Architects have re-worked the scheme, so that instead of one building, there are two. The design of the buildings is also more 'fluid'.

The mixed-use scheme includes an 88-room aparthotel and 153 new apartments. There would also be an additional 25,000 square feet of office space.

The Eboracum Roman museum beneath the buildings would be more than twice the size of Jorvik.

York Press:

How the inside of the new Roman museum might look

Rougier Street Developments says the scheme would be a ‘major economic boost for York’, generating more than £315m for the local economy over 30 years, as well as 625 new job.

Mr Jennings hopes that it will be 'second time lucky' for this application - as it was with the original Coppergate proposals, which were approved only after being resubmitted.

Not everyone shares his enthusiasm for the scheme, however.

Conservation champion Johnny Hayes, who successfully campaigned against English Heritage's original proposals for a tourist centre at Clifford's Tower, admits the revised proposals are an improvement.

"But the building is still very high and out of scale with York," he said. "It would be very dominating."

York Press:

The Roman Quarter buildings as they might appear from across the River Ouse

He added that the building could also damage any Roman archaeology that was found. "If they (archaeologists) find something of great value, they will be piercing it with pilings," he said.

Mt Jennings said archaeologists always had to balance the needs of conservation with those of discovery.

But less than two per cent of York's Roman archaeology had been excavated, he said. And there is evidence of a 'fantastic sequence' of archaeology at the site, York's early military history right through the centuries of the civilian city which was on the Rougier Street side of the river.

"This is an incredibly rare opportunity," he said.