Sunderland’s Roman history lost forever

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As I sit listening to my radio, I am hearing about the building of even more modern carbuncles (to paraphrase Prince Charles) on the former Vaux site.

It all fills me with dread as it will definitely lead to the loss of increased tourism for the ailing city centre in the form of Roman remains to attract people here.

These remains have a mosaic that I have previously cited in letters to this page, found when the foundations for Vaux Brewery were being dug in the early 1800s, as mentioned in an article in this paper in 1999, which I cut out and subsequently lost.

A friend of mine let slip in a conversation over a beer or two that he had explored the brewery’s cellars and found remains of Roman streeting, building layouts etc and a tunnel (probably not Roman) that connected the brewery to a building in High Street West, the Rose & Crown I believe, which was a Vaux public house.

All this is by the by though because after contacting Tyne & Wear archaeology people, where I also mentioned the Foxcover Lane Roman remains found when the road dissected them, I was rewarded with a retort that basically they did not believe me.

They believed Sunderland had no Roman remains at all due to the lack of Roman name references, even though the brewery address was Castle Street and was probably named after the aforementioned remains as Hylton Castle is no where near (even John Grundy states there is no name connections) and all they wanted was the date of the afore-mentioned article, which the Sunderland Antiquarian Society is currently looking for.

Myself, I fear we may never find out who was the owner of the nine-foot long index finger in the mosaic that was unearthed over two centuries ago.

Alan ‘The Quill’


Old Penshaw