WHAT did the Romans ever do for York?

Well, they certainly built some tremendous public baths – with hot and cold water – and archaeologists have now uncovered bathhouse foundations on the site of City of York Council’s new headquarters.

Three phases of buildings, dating from the late 2nd to early 3rd Century AD, have been found in good condition on land just inside the City Walls where York’s first railway station was built in 1840.

“In particular, one of these buildings has a curved or ‘apsidal’ end which we believe may be part of the caldarium or hot plunge,” said Nick Pearson, director of On Site Archaeology, which is carrying out the dig.

He said Roman coins and pottery, and fragments of a life size Roman pot, had also been found, adding: “This dig is uncovering some of the best quality Roman archaeology which has been found in York for the last twenty years.

“The significance of these finds will be recorded and form an important part in piecing together this fabulous city in years gone by.” Members of the public will have a chance to view the dig for themselves when open days are held this weekend, between 10 am and 4pm on Saturday and between 11 am and 3 pm on Sunday.

With free admission and plans to give hourly guided tours, on the hour, people should go to the site entrance just to the left of the railway memorial in Station Rise.

Steve McManaman, senior operations manager for Miller Construction, which is building the new headquarters, said as with all major projects, the company had an obligation to carry out a dig. “We knew that we would find the foundations for the Roman Baths,” he said.

“However, the archaeology team have also discovered some incredible artefacts and we are delighted to be able to share these with the local community. “York is renowned for its historical significance and these discoveries further reinforce the importance the city plays in building a picture of the past.

“The site is of huge regional and national importance and it is hoped that local residents and visitors to the city will come along and enjoy what promises to be an informative and enjoyable day.”

A clean record

THEY put York at the centre of the world, and left a lasting legacy which can still be seen in the city today.

But the Romans weren’t just conquerors, builders and administrators.

They brought civilisation with them to this far-flung corner of the north.

Now archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a large public bathhouse on the site of City of York Council’s new headquarters – including part of what may have been a hot- plunge bath.

It is good to know that 2,000 years ago our distant Roman ancestors already had a strong sense of personal hygiene.

Modern metrosexual man would have been right at home.