Proposals have been unveiled to create a Roman attraction and big hotel in York.

York-based developers North Star, in partnership with York Archaeological Trust, plan to knock down the Northern House, Rougier House and Society Bar and replace it with a new hotel, offices, apartments and the Roman centre.

Billed as ‘The Roman Quarter’, the new 235,000 sq ft building will include a 145 bed hotel, 228 apartments, 33,000 sq ft for the new Roman attraction, along with 15,500 sq ft for new cafes, retail and restaurants.

The buildings earmarked for demolition
The new Roman road
The artist’s impression in full

Prior to building work starting the trust, which runs the Jorvik Viking Centre, will conduct a two year dig of the site

They are confident of uncovering significant Roman finds which will be displayed in the new basement visitor attraction.

And the former Roman road will be reinstated to reinvigorate this part of the city. It will connect Tanner Street with Tanner’s Moat and will form a key part of the new attraction.

The dig

Flashback to the Coppergate dig in 1981. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
The dig will be one of the largest of its kind in the UK, and is expected to be especially significant given the waterlogged ground conditions which preserved so much organic matter at Coppergate.

It should engage York residents and visitors alike, as the layers of history are peeled back, and the public will be invited to share in the excitement as items are unearthed.

The archaeology alone will provide a significant positive impact for the local economy, driving national and international tourism, and providing global exposure for the city.

Those behind the scheme suggest it could attract half a million visitors per year, adding £20 million to York’s economy.

Unique opportunity

Jorvik Viking Centre is also run by the York Archaeological Trust
The new Roman attraction is set to be double the size of Jorvik Viking Centre.

David Jennings, CEO York Archaeological Trust said:

  • This is a unique opportunity to understand York’s origins and find out more about how the city developed.

    The location, next to the original Roman crossing of the River Ouse, and the scale of the dig site makes us anticipate very exciting discoveries that link Roman Eboracum with York’s future.

    Items discovered in similar ground conditions in Coppergate helped change the world’s perception of the Vikings and made York world-renowned.

    The chance to do the same for the Romans makes this one of the most exciting projects in the world.

    Here, we can begin to understand how the Roman Empire shaped and fundamentally changed the world, creating immense temporal currents that can still be felt today.

    In its time, Roman Eboracum changed from Roman military base, through to a provincial capital where Emperors lived and died. For periods, therefore, York was at the centre of the Roman world.

There will be a public exhibition about the plans between 1pm and 7pm on Thursday, 4 July, at Society Bar, Rougier Street.

More details about the consultation here.