Elland Area to York
Roman Stone Roof Flags
An interesting group of Roman stone roof flags have been found at the ongoing Micklegate excavations. These are made from micaceous sandstone sourced from the Elland area near Leeds and they were widely used in Roman York from the late 2nd century onwards. Various shapes were used including rectangular, elongated hexagons, elongated pentagons with the upper edge being a horizontal, and rectangular on the top edge with a curving basal edge.
The Micklegate site has produced examples of both rectangular (Stone Roof Flag 1) and elongated hexagonal forms (Stone Roof Flags 2-3). These were held onto the roof by nails, and as you can see the nail holes (Stone Roof Flag 4) were often decidedly off center, which is very common for such items. In the case of Stone Flag 3 the upper portion of the flag clearly broke off when the nail hole was made, and rather than waste the roof flag they simply made a second nail hole nearby.
To give you an idea of how the pentagonal and hexagonal forms were used on a roof have a look at the below image. This is the shelter over the remains of a Roman house excavated in Dorchester in Dorset and it shows how the flags were laid in an overlapping pattern to produce a diamond like pattern on the roof.