An exhibition of artefacts found by archaeologists as part of a major project to upgrade the A1 to a motorway in North Yorkshire will open at Richmondshire Museum on Monday (16 May).
A selection of 50 artefacts from the Roman town at Catterick (Cataractonium), including coins, gaming counters and a perfectly preserved wooden comb, will be on display at the museum until October.
The discoveries featured in the exhibition at Richmondshire Museum include a UK first in the form of a Roman cicada brooch made in Pannonia – a region that today includes parts of Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia.
An archaeological team of around 60 people have been working along the A1 between Leeming Bar and Barton for two years as part of a Highways England scheme to install an extra lane in each direction and improve the route to motorway standards.
During that time, archaeologists have uncovered more than 200,000 finds and sieved more than 84 tonnes of sediment samples. They have found numerous artefacts dating between the prehistoric and Roman periods.
Dr Hannah Russ, from Northern Archaeological Associates, said:
The quality and preservation of the artefacts and environmental remains from this scheme is outstanding. We are learning so many new things about the people who were living in the vicinity of the A1 in the past and I am delighted that we are now able to share our discoveries with local people.
Highways England Project Manager, Tom Howard, said:
It is fascinating to discover that nearly 2,000 years ago the Romans were utilising the A1 route as a major road of strategic importance and using the very latest technological innovations from that period.
We are doing the same thing today – using the latest technology to improve this important route and significantly reduce journey times.
Museum Officer Zoe Dodds said:
It is such an exciting time for us here at the museum, having such important artefacts and we feel very privileged to know that the exhibition can be accessed by those local people who have been affected most is fantastic.
Once completed, the A1 Leeming to Barton scheme will create a continuous motorway-standard route between London and Newcastle (including the M1 and A1M). It will also improve journey times and increase safety.
When the scheme opens to traffic in 2017, journey times between Leeming and Barton are expected to be reduced by approximately 20 per cent and, over a 60-year period, the improvements are predicted to save around 20 lives and prevent around 450 serious accidents.
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