THE discovery of the skeleton of a murdered gladiator underneath a York museum could point to the site of the city’s Roman amphitheatre.

Historians believe the skeleton of a huge Roman who was stabbed to death and buried only 30cm beneath the foundations of the Yorkshire Museum could be a clue in the search for York’s Roman amphitheatre.

Experts have revealed that the skeleton, found during the museum’s £2 million refurbishment, is that of a powerful, athletic male who was stabbed at least six times in a fatal attack, including a powerful sword blow to the back of the head.

The location where he was found has long been thought to be one of the prime locations for a Roman amphitheatre, which would most certainly have been built when York was the Roman capital of the north.

They believe it is possible that the Roman found could be a disgraced or defeated gladiator who was literally thrown out with the rubbish after his brutal death.

Andrew Morrison, head curator of the Yorkshire Museum, said: “This was a huge man for the Roman period who died a violent and bloody death.

“The physical evidence reveals he was a swordsman and that his body was literally dumped with the rubbish – there was no hint that he had been buried in a ceremonial way.

“But what is really interesting to us is that he was found in this area, which is not associated with Roman burials and that many believe could be where York’s amphitheatre was located.

“It is far from certain, but it could well be the case that this man was a disgraced gladiator who was brutally killed and then left to rot.” The skeleton was found in January by builders carrying out work on the museum, as part of its refit.

Following analysis by experts from York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, it has been revealed that the skeleton was of a middle-aged man, aged between 36 and 45 years. He was very tall for a Roman at just under 6ft and of muscular build. Lesions in his vertebrae suggest spinal stress, possibly through lifting heavy loads.

His arms are well developed and, similar to other gladiators found in Holgate in York earlier this year, bear all the hallmarks of repetitive sword training.

The most notable clues on the skeleton are the six blade injuries which, because there are no signs of healing, were delivered at death.

It was found in an area which has for a long time puzzled archaeologists as it is in close proximity to the Roman Fortress, on what was a very flat expanse of ground.

Because it is also a key medieval site, the precinct of St Mary’s Abbey, excavation has been limited so the Museum Gardens remains one of the few untouched areas in the city that may have been large enough to house the amphitheatre.

The remains of the Roman are going on display from this week.