Roman Britain: New Findings & Discoveries

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Skeleton found at Roman town dig
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 256420.stm

The male skeleton was found lying on its back with its hand tied behind its back
A complete skeleton dating from the 4th Century has been unearthed by archaeologists in Norfolk.

The buried Roman town of Venta Icenorum at Caistor St Edmund is being excavated to find out whether there is a much older settlement on the site.

The male skeleton was found in a pit lying on its side with its hands tied behind its back and the legs folded so the body could fit in the space.

The skeleton has been removed for tests on the bones to be carried out.

Questions answered

Professor Will Bowden, who is leading the dig, said finding the bones would give them an indication of the status and social class of the inhabitants of the area.

"Once we begin to look at the bones and start to analyse them, we'll be able to start answering questions about the diet of this person, where they actually came from... what they were eating and what sort of lifestyle they actually had."

Excavations at the buried town were first carried out in 1929, after the site was found by aerial photographs.

A geophysical survey was carried out two years ago, which showed possible prehistoric features beneath the town.

Archaeologists believe the town was built on top of a settlement from the Iceni tribe.

The excavations are open to the public, free of charge, until 19 September.

The site is owned by the Norfolk Archaeological Trust and managed by South Norfolk Council.
 

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Hoard of 10,000 Roman coins found
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 258349.stm

The coins were found in a large storage jar
At least 10,000 coins believed to be from the Roman era have been uncovered in Shropshire.

Officials from Shropshire Council's Museum Service said the coins, thought to be from 320 AD to 340 AD, were found in a large storage jar.

They said the haul, found by an amateur treasure hunter, had been sent to experts in London to examine.

Councillor Stephen Charmley said it was the largest coin hoard to be found in the county in modern times.

The coins, which weigh more than 70lb (32kg), are thought to have been produced during the reign of Emperor Constantine.

They are all bronze and some have been silver washed.

Council chiefs said it was difficult to estimate the coins' value as they said there had been no comparable finds of that size.

A full report on the find will be compiled after the coins are examined by the experts.

Mr Charmley said he hoped the museum service would acquire the coins and put them on display in the new Shrewsbury Museum.

The council has not revealed where in the county the coins were found.
 

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UK dig finds Roman amphitheatre
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8283195.stm



British archaeologists have unearthed an amphitheatre at a ancient port outside Rome which may have played host to emperors such as Hadrian and Trajan.

The team, led by the University of Southampton, say the arena could have held up to 2,000 people and been used for gladiator games or animal baiting.

It was found inside a gigantic imperial-style palace within the well-preserved old harbour of Portus.

Experts said the entire site deserved greater recognition.

The excavation team, which also included archaeologists from Cambridge University, has spent two years at Portus, about 20 miles (32km) from the Italian capital.

They worked in collaboration with the British School at Rome on the first large-scale dig at Portus.

The ancient gateway to the Mediterranean Sea, which is twice the size of the port of Southampton, supplied the centre of the Roman Empire with food, slaves, wild animals and building materials for hundreds of years.

It is now two miles inland and next to Fiumicino Airport's runway.

'Strictly private'

The project concentrated on the banks of a hexagonal-shaped man-made lake which formed part of the 2nd Century harbour.

This area was first excavated in the 1860s and what might have been a theatre was discovered and marked on plans, but no trace of the building could subsequently be found.


The site has been known about since the 16th century but it has never ever been given the importance it deserves

Prof Simon Keay
The British team has now discovered an oval-shaped theatre - similar in size to the Pantheon in Rome.

Professor Simon Keay, director of the Portus Project, said the theatre was tucked away at the eastern end of the palace.

"Its design, using luxurious materials and substantial colonnades, suggests it was used by a high status official, possibly even the emperor himself, and the activities that took place there were strictly private," he said.

"It could have been games or gladiatorial combat, wild beast baiting or the staging of mock sea battles but we really do not know.

"What we do know is it's unusual to find this type of building with elements of imperial architecture so close to a harbour."

'Wonder of the world'

In addition to the amphitheatre and 295ft (90m) canal, the archaeologists have made thousands of smaller finds.

The project aims to answer a number of questions about the development of Portus and its relationship to the nearby but better known Ostia, the ancient port of Rome built on the banks of the River Tiber.

"It's going to generate a lot of rethinking about how ports were used and that will change the way we think about Rome's relationship with the Mediterranean," said Prof Keay.

"The site has been known about since the 16th century but it has never been given the importance it deserves. It has been grossly understudied."

He claims it is "one of the most important archaeological sites in the world" and should be rated alongside "such wonders as "Stonehenge and Angkor Wat in Cambodia".
 

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Hallaton Roman coin is 'oldest found in Britain'
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/engl ... 487870.stm

Roman silver coin dating from 211 BC and found near the Leicestershire village of Hallaton
The coin may be evidence of early trade links

A silver coin dug up as part of a hoard is the oldest piece of Roman money found in Britain, experts believe.

The coin, which has been dated to 221BC, was found near Hallaton in Leicestershire with 5,000 other coins, a helmet and decorated bowl.

Uncovered by archaeologists in 2000, the coin's significance has just been recognised, the county council said.

It said the coin, which has the Goddess Roma on one side, was "something very special".

The other side depicts mythical twins Castor and Pollux sat on galloping horses.

Iron Age shrine

David Sprason, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for communities and wellbeing, said: "Leicestershire boasts the largest number of Iron Age coins ever professionally excavated in Britain in the Hallaton Treasure.

"To also have the oldest Roman coin ever found is something very special."

The Hallaton coin is on display at Harborough Museum, Market Harborough, alongside other coins that were excavated at a late Iron Age shrine of the Corieltavi tribe dating to the first century AD.


It was minted in Rome at the time of the Hannibalic wars and here it is turning up after what must have been quite a long journey
Professor David Mattingly

Museum staff said it was a mystery as to how this coin came into the possession of the local Corieltavi tribe.

Some archaeologists have however speculated that such Roman Republican coins found their way into Britain before the Roman conquest in 43 AD and were evidence of exchange through trade or diplomacy.

Professor David Mattingly of the University of Leicester's School of Archaeology and Ancient History said: "This hoard has changed our view of just how significant the East Midlands were in this period and this coin is a good example.

"It indicates there was contact between this region and the Roman Empire despite the distance between the East Midlands and the parts of Britain the Romans arrived in, like Colchester and Chichester."

He added: "It was minted in Rome at the time of the Hannibalic wars and here it is turning up after what must have been quite a long journey."
 

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Roman era York may have been more diverse than today
http://www.physorg.com/news186653530.html
March 1st, 2010

A computerised reconstruction of how the Ivory Bangle Lady could have looked. Image credit: Dr Hella Eckardt/University of Reading

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new archaeological study in Britain has shown that its multi-cultural nature is not a new phenomenon, but that even in Roman times there was a strong African influence, with North Africans moving in high social circles.

The study, led by Dr Hella Eckardt of the Department of Archaeology at Reading University, used pioneering forensic techniques to study fourth century artifacts and bones in the Yorkshire Museum’s collections in York. The researchers used isotope analysis and forensic ancestry assessment to analyze the items, which included the “Ivory Bangle Lady” skeleton and goods buried with her.

The Ivory Bangle Lady remains were found in August 1901 in a stone coffin unearthed in Bootham, where a group of graves were found. The grave has been dated to the latter half of the fourth century. Items buried with the Lady included expensive luxury items such African elephant ivory bracelets, beads, pendants and other jewelry, a blue glass jug, a glass mirror, and Yorkshire jet. A rectangular bone mount, possibly for a wooden coffin, was also found in the grave. An inscription on the bone, “Hail sister, may you live in God,” suggests the woman held religious beliefs and may have been Christian. She is believed to have been one of the richest inhabitants of the city.

The researchers analyzed and measured the Lady’s skull and facial features, and looked at the chemical signatures of her diet. They also examined the burial site to build a picture of her social status and ancestry.

Dr Eckardt said the results showed the Ivory Bangle Lady was of mixed ancestry, and the isotope analysis suggested she may have migrated to Britain from a warmer climate. This evidence, along with the goods found in the ground, and the fact the burial rite was unusual, all point to the her having been of North African descent, arriving in Britain possibly via the Mediterranean, and she was of high social status.

Roman era York may have been more diverse than today

Enlarge

The analysis of the Lady and other skeletons and artifacts contradicts the popular assumption about Britain in Roman times that African immigrants were usually males, of low status, and most were slaves, and shows that high status women from Africa were also present in the society. Dr Eckardt said the research on the Lady and other skeletons suggest the society was as diverse, and possibly more diverse than it is today.

The Roman Empire extended into the Near and Middle East, North Africa, and included Europe, and there were great movements of people throughout the Empire, both voluntary and involuntary. York (or Eboracum, as it was then known) was an important city of the period and eventually was named capital of “Britannia Inferior.” Emperor Septimius Severus, who was born in North Africa, was one of two Roman Emperors who visited Eboracum, and died there.

The paper is published in this month’s edition of the journal Antiquity. The skeleton and artifacts will be displayed in August as part of the Yorkshire Museum’s exhibition: Roman York — Meet the People of the Empire. Roman era York may have been more diverse than today

More information: A Lady of York: migration, ethnicity and identity in Roman Britain, Antiquity, Volume: 84 Number: 323 Page: 131-145. http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/084/ant0840131.htm
 

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Roman altar stones unearthed at Scottish cricket ground
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/8640741.stm

Inscriptions may reveal information about life in Roman times
Roman altar stones dating back almost 2000 years have been found at a cricket pavilion in Musselburgh, East Lothian.

The stones have been described as the most significant find of their kind in the past 100 years.

Renovations were planned at the pavilion but archaeologists had to survey the protected building before work could begin.

Their unearthing of the stones and other artefacts has postponed the planned developments on the pavilion.

George Findlater, senior inspector of ancient monuments at Historic Scotland, said: "The stones have carvings and quite possibly inscriptions which can have a wealth of information on them, a lot of data about the people and their religion at that time."

This helps with the emerging picture of life in and around the Roman fort at Inveresk during the second century

Councillor Paul McLennan
At least one of the altars is from the 2nd Century and is dedicated to the Roman God Jupiter.

Councillor Paul McLennan, cabinet member for community wellbeing at East Lothian Council, said: "The discovery of these remains is particularly exciting as it is not often that Roman altar stones are discovered during an archaeological excavation in Scotland.

"This helps with the emerging picture of life in and around the Roman fort at Inveresk during the second century."
 

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'Gladiator burial ground' discovered in York
The world's best-preserved gladiator burial ground - the final resting place of warriors who battled wild beasts and each other before being dispatched with a hammer blow to the skull - may have been discovered in York.
By Matthew Moore
Published: 6:30AM BST 07 Jun 2010

Dozens of skeletons found beneath the garden of a former 18th Century mansion are probably those of professional fighters who fought, and died, for the entertainment of the ruling Romans.

The remains of around 80 people were discovered during building work at a site to the west of the city centre in 2004, but their likely origins are only now being revealed thanks to extensive forensic analysis.

Almost all the corpses are of robust young males, many of whom met their death by decapitation between the late first and fourth centuries AD.

Archaeologists initially suspected that they were Roman soldiers loyal to Emperor Severus who were executed in the bloody aftermath of his traitorous son Caracalla's coup in 211 AD.

But researchers from the York Archaeological Trust, which is leading the investigation, have now discovered tantalising evidence that the men were actually Gladiators brought to Britain from across the Mediterranean to fight at an as-yet-undiscovered amphitheatre.

Kurt Hunter-Mann, a field officer at the trust, said: "One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark - probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear - an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context."

The majority of the men had sustained brutal weapon injuries consistent with gladiatorial combat. Close scrutiny of the skeletons also showed that many of the dead had one arm that was stronger than the other - an indication that they had been trained to use large weapons from a young age.

Furthermore, damage sustained by their skulls suggested that some of the men had been killed by a hammer blow to the head, a gladiatorial "coup de grace" for which evidence has also been uncovered at a major Roman graveyard in Ephesus, Turkey.

The researchers have made clear that the gladiator explanation is just their "lead theory" and that more study is required. But academics have said that the find could put Britain at the forefront of Roman Empire archaeology.

Dr Michael Wysocki, senior lecturer in forensic anthropology and archaeology at the University of Central Lancashire, which helped analyse the bones, said: "These are internationally important discoveries. We don't have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world."

Amphitheatres have been discovered at several old Roman settlements across England, including Chester and Cirencester, although not in York.

Some Roman amphitheatres were made from wood, meaning their locations may never be identified.

Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill, Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and an expert in ancient history, cautioned that alternative explanations for the identities of the York bodies deserved further investigation, but said that the find was "very exciting stuff".

He said: "If you have decapitations there's something pretty remarkable about the burials. These are not ordinary people who have had ordinary deaths."

Prof Wallace-Hadrill added that advances in modern pathology were throwing new light on historical remains.

"Skeletons can be incredibly eloquent," he said. "We can now learn so much about the living person from their skeleton - far more than just age and sex."

Gladiators: Back From The Dead will be shown on Channel 4 on Monday June 14 at 9pm.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/ ... -York.html
 

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My brother just rang me to tell me about this; he lives in the Seychelles. He must've picked it up off the BBC. I didn't know anything about it till he rang me.

No-one knows where the amphitheatre was in York, or even if it existed. But I suppose that if they had gladiators they must have had a circus of some sort.
 

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Roman fort found in Cornwall 'rewrites history'
Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Tuesday, 22 June 2010 13:38 UK

A Roman fort which has been discovered in Cornwall is challenging previous historical views about the South West.

Pottery and pieces of slag have been found at the undisclosed location near St Austell, suggesting an ironworks.

Experts said the discovery challenges previous thinking about the region's history as it had been thought Romans did not settle much beyond Exeter.

John Smith, from Cornwall Historic Environment Service, said: "This is a major discovery, no question about it."

Mr Smith said: "For Roman Britain it's an important and quite crucial discovery because it tells us a lot about Roman occupation in the South West that was hitherto completely unexpected.

"The other Roman sites we know about [in Cornwall] have occupation in the 1st Century AD, of about 50 AD to 80 AD, and that fits in with what we know about Exeter.

"In finding the pottery and glass, it's saying the occupation is much longer and goes from 60 AD up to about 250 AD, which turns the whole thing on its head.

Mr Clemes discovered Roman pottery and glass at the site "It certainly means a rewrite of history in the South West."

The site had previously been regarded as an Iron Age settlement, but the recent discovery of pottery and glass was found to be of Roman origin.

Archaeological enthusiast Jonathan Clemes discovered various artefacts by studying the earth after it had been ploughed.

He said: "You've got to know your pottery.

"If you come across a bit of pottery and you know what it is, it can tell you a great deal about the activity that went on in that area."

Following the discovery of the artefacts a geophysical survey of the site was conducted, which uncovered a fort, marching camp and various annexes.

Mr Smith said that prior to this discovery, it was believed that Roman forts had only been positioned close to the Devon border, because after settling for about 30 years, the Roman's left the region for south Wales.

It will now be considered whether to excavate the area, or to leave it for a future excavation when techniques have advanced.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/corn ... 372659.stm
 

Bigfoot73

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Very interesting. Any idea whereabouts it is Rynner?
 

rynner2

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Bigfoot73 said:
Very interesting. Any idea whereabouts it is Rynner?
An "undisclosed location near St Austell"... 8)

I'm about 2 hours away by bus from St Austell, so I'm not party to any local gossip. If I come across anything else in the local press I'll report it here.
 

rynner2

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A quick look at the OS mapping shows a 'settlement' and 'Trethullan Castle' to the SW, and a few more earthworks to the NW which also might be Iron Age, all within a few miles of town. But SE is mainly sea, and NE has been chewed up by China Clay workings.

Then again the site could be many miles from St Austell, as the next place of any size is Truro, about 12 miles away.
 

eburacum

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Mum-in-law lives in St. Austell; next time we're down we might look into this a bit closer.
I wonder if it's anywhere near the Tristan Stone?
http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=8342
That's supposed to have been inscribed in the 6th century, not too long after the Romans left.
 

Bigfoot73

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Don't remember Trethullan Castle. Mum Lives near the Tristan Stone, slightly nearer than she used to actually since they moved it to make way for a mini roundabout. I shall consult her.
The part of the inscription with Iseult's parents' names on it was knocked off and lost when the stone was moved in the 1800s, but the details are recorded and it definitely is their gravestone. Don't recall anybody having dug there though.
 

Bigfoot73

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Apparently it's near Braddock, which is near West Taphouse, which are the other side of Lostwithiel from St Austell.
 

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Baby deaths link to Roman 'brothel' in Buckinghamshire
Page last updated at 05:00 GMT, Friday, 25 June 2010 06:00 UK

Archaeologists investigating a mass burial of 97 infants at a Roman villa in the Thames Valley believe it may have been a brothel.

Tests on the site at Hambleden in Buckinghamshire suggest all died at 40 weeks gestation, very soon after birth.

Archaeologists suspect local inhabitants may have been systematically killing unwanted babies.

Archaeologist Dr Jill Eyers said: "The only explanation you keep coming back to is that it's got to be a brothel".

With little or no effective contraception, unwanted pregnancies could have been common at Roman brothels, explained Dr Eyers, who works for Chiltern Archaeology.

And infanticide may not have been as shocking in Roman times as it is today.

Archaeological records suggest infants were not considered to be "full" human beings until about the age of two, said Dr Eyers.

Children any younger than that age were not buried in cemeteries. As a result, infant burials tended to be at domestic sites in the Roman era.

Even so, say experts, the number at the Yewden villa at Hambleden is extraordinary.

"There is no other site that would yield anything like the 97 infant burials," said Dr Simon Mays, a skeletal biologist at English Heritage's Centre for Archaeology, who has been investigating the finds.

The ages of the babies were estimated by measuring the length of the bones. The researchers found these were all of similar size.

Dr Mays believes that this points to systematic infanticide at birth rather than death from natural causes, which would have struck infants at different ages.

The Hambleden site, close to the River Thames, was excavated 100 years ago and identified as a high status Roman villa.

The dig was on a massive scale but is now buried under a wheat field.

But meticulous records were left by a naturalist and archaeologist called Alfred Heneage Cocks.

More than 300 boxes full of artefacts, pottery and bones were recently re-discovered at Buckinghamshire County Museum along with Cocks' original report published in 1921, and a small photo archive.

The records give precise locations for the infant bodies, which were hidden under walls or buried under courtyards close to each other.

Cocks' original report paid little attention to these remains, which are now being tested for the first time by English Heritage.

The team plans to carry out DNA tests on the skeletons in a bid to establish their sex and possible relationship to each other.

They are also trying to uncover any other information which might suggest a motive for the practice.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/science_and_ ... 384460.stm
 

CarlosTheDJ

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rynner2 said:
But meticulous records were left by a naturalist and archaeologist called Alfred Heneage Cocks.
:lol:
 

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There I was being all sorry for the babies and then I read the next message and start sniggering. Hurray for double entendres and nominative determinism!!
 

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Female 'gladiator' remains found in Herefordshire

Archaeologists in Herefordshire have uncovered the remains of what could possibly be a female gladiator.

Amongst the evidence of a Roman suburb in Credenhill, they have found the grave of a massive, muscular woman.

She was found in an elaborate wooden coffin, reinforced with iron straps and copper strips, which indicate her importance.

Her remains were found in a crouched position, in what could be a suburb of the nearby Roman town of Kenchester.

The archaeological Project Manager, Robin Jackson, said: "When we first looked at the leg and arm bones, the muscle attachments suggested it was quite a strapping big bloke, but the pelvis and head, and all the indicators of gender, say it's a woman."

"The coffin would have been made of wood - we haven't got any of the wood left, but we've got the nails around the outside then three huge giant straps that run all the way around the coffin, and also bronze strips on the corners which would have probably strengthened it, but probably decorated it.

"It's quite an elaborate and probably a very expensive coffin, and yet the person in it looked like they had a hard working life, and so there's an anomaly there."

An offering of beef and a fired pot were also found in the grave, and she was buried on top of a base of gravel.

Also unusual was the place where she was buried - in the suburb, instead of in a cemetery on the edge of the settlement, which was the law in Roman times.

This archaeological find is as a result of excavations in advance of the construction of the Yazor Brook Flood Alleviation Scheme, which will protect homes and businesses in Hereford.

The road east from Kenchester was constructed by the Roman army in the mid 1st century AD, as they pushed westwards into Wales.

Very little was known previously about the suburb which grew up beside this road, however, preliminary results suggest that the main period of development for the suburb was the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, and that it was much more extensive and densely occupied than had previously been thought.

Trial work, undertaken in 2009, showed that the area contains the well-preserved remains of Roman buildings, yards and rubbish pits situated to either side of a major Roman road, which ran east out of the town.

These form part of an important Roman suburb, which developed alongside the road, but now lies buried, along with the rest of the town, beneath fields and a footpath.

A team of archaeologists from Worcestershire Historic Environment and Archaeology Service, working in close co-operation with Amey Consulting and Herefordshire Council's archaeology team, are carefully excavating a 10-metre wide corridor, to allow the flood culvert to be built across this area.

A huge amount of information has already been gleaned, and this is beginning to allow the archaeologists to gain an understanding of this part of the town.

It is hoped that by the time the excavation is completed, at the end of July 2010, the archaeological team will have built up a detailed understanding of the development and nature of this Roman suburb.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/herefordand ... 780862.stm
 

Kondoru

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Perhaps its Boudicea?

Or one of her daughters?

She was pretty big and tough, by all accounts
 

Cultjunky

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Nah, apparently, shes buried in Birmingham. Or under Kings Cross. Or was cremated.
 

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Huge Roman coin find for hobbyist
Page last updated at 05:03 GMT, Thursday, 8 July 2010 06:03 UK

One of the largest ever finds of Roman coins in Britain has been made by a man using a metal detector.

The hoard of more than 52,000 coins dating from the third century AD was found buried in a field near Frome in Somerset.

The coins were found in a huge jar just over a foot (0.3m) below the surface by Dave Crisp, from Devizes in Wiltshire.

"I have made many finds over the years, but this is my first major coin hoard," he said.

After his metal detector gave a "funny signal", Mr Crisp says he dug down 14 inches before he found what had caused it.

"I put my hand in, pulled out a bit of clay and there was a little Radial, a little bronze Roman coin. Very, very small, about the size of my fingernail."

Mr Crisp reported the find to the authorities, allowing archaeologists to excavate the site.

Since the discovery in late April, experts from the Portable Antiquities Scheme at the British Museum have been working through the find.

The coins were all contained in a single clay pot. Although it only measured 18" (0.45m) across, the coins were packed inside and would have weighed an estimated 160kg.

"I don't believe myself that this is a hoard of coins intended for recovery," says Sam Moorhead from the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

"I think what you could see is a community of people who are actually making offerings and they are each pouring in their own contribution to a communal ritual votive offering to the gods."

It is estimated the coins were worth about four years' pay for a legionary soldier.

"Because Mr Crisp resisted the temptation to dig up the coins, it has allowed archaeologists from Somerset County Council to carefully excavate the pot and its contents," said Anna Booth, local finds liaison officer.

Somerset County Council Heritage Service now hope the coroner will declare the find as treasure. That would allow the Museum of Somerset to acquire the coins at market value with the reward shared by Mr Crisp and the land owner.

A selection of coins from the hoard is on display in Gallery 68 at the British Museum until mid-August.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/10546960.stm
 

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Relic of Harpocrates, the god of secrecy and silence, found at Silchester


Archaeological dig at abandoned Roman city in Hampshire yields earliest representation of an Egyptian deity found in Britain

Professor Mike Fulford at the Silchester dig Professor Mike Fulford with a Roman writing tablet found at the Silchester dig. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian

A battered and corroded thumb-sized piece of bronze has turned out to be a unique find, the earliest representation of an Egyptian deity from any site in Britain – and appropriately, after almost 2,000 years hidden in the ground, it is Harpocrates, the god of secrecy and silence.

The little figure was found at Silchester, site of an abandoned Roman city in Hampshire, in last summer's excavation, but his identity was only revealed in months of careful conservation work. His Greek and Roman designation as Harpocrates, the god of spymasters, is actually a transcription error.

"In Egyptian mythology the figure is known as Horus, the child of Isis and Osiris," said Professor Mike Fulford of the University of Reading, director of the Silchester excavation. "He is often shown with his finger in his mouth, a gesture that in Egypt represented the hieroglyph for his name, but was misinterpreted by the Greeks and Romans, resulting in his adoption as the god of silence and secrecy."

He was originally an ornament on an object, which is itself unique. "The figurine was attached to part of a charcoal-burning brazier which would have been used to provide heating and lighting. This brazier is the only one found in England so we are doubly excited," Fulford said. "The brazier, the sort of thing you would expect to find in Pompeii, is the first evidence of such a luxurious item from Roman Britain."

The context of the find suggests the brazier was imported, and later thrown out into a rubbish pit, in the first century AD. etc
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/ ... silchester
 

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Remains of Roman villa near Aberystwyth discovered

Archaeologists have discovered a 4th Century Roman villa near Aberystwyth.

It is the most north-westerly villa found in Wales and has forced experts to reconsider the whole nature of Roman settlement across mid and north Wales.

Findings indicate Abermagwr had all the trappings of villas found further south, including a slate roof and glazed windows.

"The discovery raises significant new questions," said Dr Toby Driver and Dr Jeffrey Davies, excavation directors.

The villa is likely to have belonged to a wealthy landowner, with pottery and coin finds on the site indicating occupation in the late 3rd and early 4th Centuries AD.

It was roofed with local slates, which were cut for a pentagonal roof. The walls were built of local stone and there was a cobbled yard.

The confirmation of the villa comes after Royal Commission aerial photography during the drought of 2006 suggested marks of a building and a ditch which could be an important historical monument.

Dr Driver and Dr Davies, while filming for BBC2 Wales' Hidden Histories programme in 2009 conducted a geophysical survey of the field. It revealed a vast ditched enclosure and annex, as well the buried footings of a winged stone building.

This led to the 2010 excavations.

etc...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-mid-wales-10753974
 

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Experts uncover second Roman fort on city site

EXETER archaeologists believe they have found a second Roman fort on a development site in the city.

As the Echo has already reported, a team of city archaeologists has unearthed a previously unknown fort on the site of the former St Loye's campus off Topsham Road.

Archaeologists said the original discovery was set to rewrite Exeter's early history.

Now the excavations have revealed what the experts believe could be a second fort, built on top of the first. etc etc
http://www.thisisexeter.co.uk/news/City ... ticle.html
 

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Roman fortress Caerleon gives up new treasures to archaeology students
Roman buildings, unknown to historians, detected by Cardiff University students learning to use mapping equipment
Maev Kennedy guardian.co.uk, Thursday 12 August 2010 16.21 BST

Archaeology students learning how to use mapping equipment have stumbled across the site of large Roman buildings on the banks of the river Usk in Wales, right by one of the best-known and most-studied Roman sites in Britain.

The structures have yet to be excavated, but one is enormous, possibly a granary or warehouse – or a palatial riverside villa.

The students located the previously unknown buildings as they were learning to use geophysical tools, which can reveal the outlines of buried structures, in fields by the Roman fortress at Caerleon – claimed by some romantics as King Arthur's Camelot. The area has been excavated and studied for two centuries.

The buildings lie outside the fortress walls, where archaeologists believed there was nothing except a few outbuildings and stores.

Cardiff University, whose students of the school of history, archaeology and religion made the discovery, has created a fly-through animation, which contrary to the old guidebooks and maps, now shows buildings stuffed in between the fortress and the river, including a huge rectangular complex surrounding a courtyard the size of a parade ground.

Dr Pete Guest, senior lecturer in Roman archaeology at the university, described the discovery as "completely new and totally unexpected".

"It is difficult to be certain about what we have found because nothing like this has been discovered in Roman Britain before. The buildings' ground plans suggest that they were of some importance. We think that they could have included markets, administrative buildings such as town halls, bath-houses, store buildings, or even possibly temples.

"The biggest is enormous and must be one of the largest buildings known from Roman Britain. We can only guess what it was for, but at the moment we're working on the idea that it had something to do with a harbour on the river, although it does look uncannily like a residential villa building – if that's the case it was built on a palatial scale."

Caerleon, Chester and York are the only three known permanent legionary forts, but the others are much harder to excavate because most of the remains are buried under the modern cities. In Caerleon, almost the entire site is still in open ground, though many of the 17th and 18th century buildings incorporated stones borrowed from the Romans.

More answers may emerge in the next weeks, as the students join staff and a team from University College London, in a six-week dig.

The dig, which will continue until mid-September, will be open to the public with daily tours, and displays of finds. The excavation will be updated regularly at the Council for British Archaeology's website.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/ ... -buildings
 

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British villa fit for an emperor: Experts finally solve puzzle of Roman ruins at Lullingstone
By Jaya Narain
Last updated at 11:09 PM on 18th August 2010

For 70 years, archaeologists have tried to unravel the secrets of one of the most remarkable Roman villas discovered in Britain.
The Lullingstone villa was uncovered in 1939 when a tree was blown down by high winds. Over the years, archaeologists found one of the first Christian chapels in Britain, the graves of a man and a woman, a pair of unique floor mosaics and two marble busts.

The owner of the villa in Kent has finally been identified as a former Emperor of Rome.
Archaeologists believe the site near the village of Eynsford, close to Orpington, was the home of Publius Helvius Pertinax.
He was Governor of Britain between AD185 and 187 and became Roman Emperor in AD193 – reigning for only 87 days at the start of 'the year of the five emperors', which saw the empire ripped apart by assassinations.

A high-quality seal found just outside the villa is believed to be the governor's personal mark. Two portrait busts left at the villa have been identified as Pertinax and probably his father.

The research was carried out by Martin Henig, who lectures in Roman art and culture at Oxford University, and German Richard de Kind.

Joanne Gray, curator at Lullingstone, said: 'We have always known that the site must have belonged to someone of high status because of its size, the quality of its mosaic floor and the archaeological finds.

'The image on the seal is one of victory. It is an image often used by Romans as a sign of imperial power.'

The son of a freed slave, Petrinax was born in AD126 in modern-day Piedmont, Italy, and became a brilliant military commander.

Fighting in a series of wars under successive emperors, he was posted to Britain in AD186 to crush a rebellion in the Sixth Legion before becoming governor.

When Emperor Commodus was assassinated, Pertinax was installed as his successor. He drew up a series of measures to balance the budget after Commodus's lavish spending on games and spectacles.

But the austere measures made him unpopular and he was assassinated by his own guards at the age of 66.

Historians say the villa was built in 82AD, enlarged in around 150AD and used by others for more than 300 years until it was burnt down in the 5th century. Its basement and foundation walls can still be viewed at the site, which is preserved by English Heritage.

Mrs Gray said the research had been carried out by archaeologists Martin Henig, who lectures in Roman art and culture at Oxford University, and German archaeologist Richard de Kind.
She added: 'The research that has been done points quite strongly to Lullingstone being the home of Britain's governor. Everything seems to fit.'

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... z0x2UIOW8a
 

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Flood water reveals bigger Cockermouth Roman fort
Roman dig Volunteers help with the dig at the Roman site

The floods which devastated west Cumbria last November have helped rewrite the area's history by unearthing Roman treasures.

Work began in a field near Papcastle in Cockermouth after the floods in 2009 exposed the remains of a settlement.

The artefacts, including pottery and glassware, are around 1,700 years old meaning the Roman fort on the site was more extensive than experts believed.

Bassenthwaite Reflections, which runs the project, needs dig volunteers.

Lead archaeologist Mark Graham said: "We are unearthing a site of great historical significance.

"It is showing the Roman presence in Cockermouth was far more extensive than was believed with the settlement stretching down to the River Derwent."

RAF and lifeboat crews rescued scores of people from their homes when water levels reached 2.5m (8ft 2in) in Cockermouth town centre during the floods.

Bassenthwaite Reflections is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is looking for volunteers to help with digs on 26 August and 2 September.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-11058330
 
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