Home Heritage Midland Metro's 'Roman' road not as old as first thought

Midland Metro’s ‘Roman’ road not as old as first thought

Archaeologists have been able to determine the age of a footpath which was uncovered in Birmingham’s Victoria Square during works to extend the Midland Metro tram network.

Newspaper reports described the discovery of a cobbled Roman road beneath the streets of Britain’s second city but archeologists have now been able to confirm that it is actually somewhat newer than that.

Experts believe the footpath is likely to date back to the 18th or 19th century and could have been part of an extension of Pinfold Street.

Members of the public were able to go and view the footpath before it was excavated at the end of June.

Laurence Hayes, archaeologist for RSK, said: “This is a very interesting find in the heart of the city centre. The artefacts we have recovered from the surface of the path and beneath it include porcelain, clay pipe and building materials which date to the post-medieval period.

“The road is probably part of the city’s expansion in the mid-18th century, and went out of use in the Victorian period. We will be carrying out further work in the coming months to examine historical maps and the artefacts we have removed from the site in order to build up the full picture.”

Natalie Cropp, sustainability manager for the Midland Metro Alliance, said: “Working with archaeologists, we’ve been able to capture complete records of this piece of Birmingham’s history that we have uncovered, including surveys, physical pieces, photographs and video.

“The Midland Metro Alliance works closely with the local community and these pieces will make a great case study and educational piece for schoolchildren which highlights the hidden histories which are all around us beneath our city streets.”

The Midland Metro Alliance is currently delivering an extension of the tram network from New Street station to Centenary Square, which is due to open in 2019.  The next phase will take the line to Edgbaston in time for the Commonwealth Games in 2022.

Five new tram stops are being built at Victoria Square, Centenary Square, Brindley Place, Five Ways and Hagley Road.

Steve Grimes, the Midland Metro Alliance’s project director for the Birmingham Westside Extension, said: “There is always potential for items of historical importance to be uncovered during construction, and the discovery of the footpath provides a fascinating look at Birmingham in days-gone-by.”

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