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News release - Issued by York Museums Trust

The Hunt for York’s Amphitheatre

Time Team’s Stewart Ainsworth leads a team of archaeologists to help reveal one of York’s biggest Roman Mysteries.

Leading archaeologists including Time Team’s Stewart Ainsworth will gather in York Museum Gardens next month to hunt for clues which may reveal the hidden location of York’s Roman Amphitheatre.

The Gardens and Kings Manor were chosen as the most likely site in the city for the amphitheatre after school children, community groups and university teams pitched their thoughts at a Festival of Ideas event last year.

As part of this year’s Eboracum Roman Festival (June 1-4) their theory will now be tested using traditional methods and the latest technology, with Stewart Ainsworth being joined by experts from the City of York Council, the University of York and Lanpro Archaeology and Heritage.

Stewart said “A city of York’s importance during the Roman period would have had an amphitheatre. As well as a venue for often violent entertainment it was also a symbol of imperial power and would have probably been positioned near the river to show those arriving to the city its importance and strength.

“With the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey in York Museum Gardens and Kings Manor remaining relatively untouched in terms of modern development, the area is one of the few sites in York which has not been explored in recent times.

“We are looking forward to using new technology and good old traditional research to help us build up a picture of what lies beneath the land and to see if it offers us any clues to answer one of York’s biggest Roman mysteries.”

Prior to the actual search for the amphitheatre, on Friday June 2 Stewart Ainsworth and Tim Sutherland, archaeologist at the University of York, will be hosting a special event entitled The Discovery of the Chester Amphitheatre and the search for York’s Lost Amphitheatre. Stewart will be talking about how the Chester amphitheatre was rediscovered, followed by Tim demonstrating how it could be possible to make a similar discovery in York.

This will take place in the Tempest Anderson Hall from 7pm to 9pm
And cost £10 per person (includes a glass of wine).

Tickets for bookable events are available on line from

Then on Saturday June 3 Stewart and Tim will be joined by Mitch Pollington of Lanpro Archaeology and Heritage and John Oxley, City of York Council Archaeologist to carry out the survey of the Gardens and Kings Manor to look for lues of the amphitheatre’s whereabouts. Throughout the day visitors to the Eboracum Roman Festival can talk to the archaeologists as they go about their search using the latest surveying technology.

Eboracum Roman Festival

The Eboracum Roman Festival will be based in the York Museum Gardens where there will be fighting displays from members of several Roman Legions, a Roman camp showing domestic Roman life and children’s army drills.

At select times the gathered troops will march through the streets of York while a series of talks by leading experts will take place for adults and children including ones on Roman magic and Roman fashion.

An Authors Tent will offer the chance to meet several best-selling writers such as Harry Sidebottom, Ben Kane and Ruth Downie.

The Yorkshire Museum, home some of Britain’s most treasured Roman artefacts, will be unveiling the Wold Newton Hoard, the largest hoard of its kind ever found in the North of Britain, following its recent acquisition and conservation.
For more details on the festival visit:


Notes to editors:

Images of the 2016 festival are available on request.

For further Information contact Lee Clark, communications manager, telephone 01904 687673 or email