LONDON (VINnews) — A restoration project at the historic Bevis Marks synagogue in London, the oldest synagogue in the UK, has led to the discovery of part of an ancient town dating back to Roman times.

Earlier this year, the synagogue received £497,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to carry out renovation and other work on the project that had been hampered by the COVID 19 pandemic

During the restoration process of the Shul, which was founded by the Spanish and Portuguese Sephardi Community in 1701, archaeologists conducted excavations under the annex of the synagogue, as part of a project to improve access to the synagogue and to establish a heritage center and exhibition on its more than 300-year history.

In an update announcement last week, Howard Martin, Chair of the Bevis Marks Heritage Foundation, said that discoveries in the excavation included parts of a red brick Roman wall as well as a medieval wall. The area of London where Bevis Marks is located comprised the ancient Roman city called Londinium, which was founded in the 1st century C.E. on the site where The City is currently located. The town was destroyed 17 years after it was built by Queen Boudica but was then rebuilt and grew in prominence until it became the capital of Britain in Roman times with a population of 60,000 at the end of the 1st century. The London Wall built around the city at the time survived for another 1600 years and defined the perimeters of the ancient town.

Other finds at the site include what may have been part of an 18th century heating system for the synagogue, as well as a piece of red “Samian Ware” pottery dating from Roman times, and “various animal bones.”

The synagogue’s rabbi Shalom Morris told the Jewish Chronicle that some of the discoveries may “find their way into some kind of display cabinet in the final heritage centre” and that other finds, such as the ancient walls, have been preserved and will remain in place “for future discovery.”

As reported by Vos Iz Neias