WORK has started on unearthing the secrets of 2,000 years of York's history.

The Lord Mayor of York, Councillor Janet Looker, joined the excavation effort at the site of a summer archaeological dig near the city's Museum Gardens.

The training dig, which will last until September 5, is on the site of the mediaeval hospital of St Leonard's.

The project is being carried out by the York Archaeological Trust, and trainees from across the world have signed up to work alongside trust staff in uncovering hidden clues to York's past - while learning the skills of the trade.

It is the final season of the dig, and training is taking place on one of the most important sites in York.

Bounded in the north-west corner by the famous Multangular Tower, marking a corner of the Roman fortress, excavation of the site has uncovered evidence of occupation and activity throughout 2,000 years of the city's history.

The aims of this year's excavation include learning more about the structures of the Roman fortress, and digging even further back in time to discover evidence of prehistoric activity.

Site director Kurt Hunter-Mann said: "It is really exciting to be starting another season of of work here.

"We have a unique opportunity to find out so much more about York, and it is great to have members of the public taking part in this discovery. Some people have enjoyed it so much they have returned year after year."

For younger explorers a series of activity days have been devised, and the site is open to the public every day for guided tours.

For more information visit the website

Updated: 13:02 Tuesday, June 15, 2004