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High Cross and St. Nicholas' Streets


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The point of intersection of the two main streets of a Roman town naturally indicates its centre or nucleus, around which its business would mostly be carried on, and the chief buildings placed; and of Roman Leicester, accordingly we find the most important remains in the neighbourhood of High Cross and St. Nicholas' Streets, near the junction of the Foss Way and the Via Devana, and reaching as far south as the site of St. Martin's Church.

It is impossible to avoid speculating, however vainly on the probable amount of light that might be thrown upon this most interesting first chapter of our towns history, if from ten to twenty feet below the surface of the whole central area of Leicester could be systematically excavated; but as, apart from the action of time and weather, the greater portion of the ruined Roman masonry and material must, during the lapse of many centuries, have lost its identity in being used over and over again as a means of filling up inconspicuous parts of later structures, our curiosity must remain unsatisfied, except for occasional fragmentary upturning, or by portions of objects exposed to view in situ by chance excavations.

This, indeed, only serves to stimulate our regret that so much has altogether vanished; but we must perforce content ourselves with these partial discoveries, and with exercising our imagination upon the precious relics which from time to time have been unearthed and preserved for the interest and contemplation of modern dwellers on this ancient site.

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