Amateur Explorer Finds Roman Era Grave In UK

A man wielding a metal detector recently discovered a preserved Roman-era grave in a small village in the United Kingdom. The discovery is now being brought to light by archaeologists, who believe that it once was the burial site of a wealthy Roman individual.

What The Roman Era Grave Reveals

In a field in Kelshall, a small village in-between London and Cambridge, Phil Kirk was using his metal detector when he found a bronze jug about 10 inches tall, along with a bronze patera, that seemed to be from the Roman era. Kirk contacted local experts, who discovered a host of other artifacts at the site, including a bronze pin, an iron lamp, and bottles of various shapes and sizes, all of which dated to about A.D. 200.

Archaeology and outreach officer of the North Hetfordshire District Council, Keith Fitzpatrick-Matthews, who examined the site, said that one large bottle in a hexagonal shape was filled with cremated bone, which made it clear: this was a burial site, and given the quality of artifacts, a wealthy one. Hobnails were found, which were small iron nails used in making sandals. Fitzpatrick-Matthews noted that Roman mythology warned that once you died you would have to walk on foot to the river Styx and onward to the underworld, so wealthy Romans would provide a good pair of sandals to be buried in.

The mythology also helped Fitzpatrick-Matthews date the site. Within the cremation urn, a weathered bronze coin was found. These coins were provided to the dead in order to pay Charon, the ferryman who would bring you across the river Styx to the underworld proper. The coin was minted in Rome in A.D. 170, and due to it being weathered, it was likely 20 or 30 years old before being buried, Fitzpatrick-Matthews said, which dates the grave at about A.D. 200.

The Roman era grave site also has evidence of a home and villa nearby, and the field as a whole has had multiple archaeological discoveries, including a well. Fitzpatrick-Matthews noted that the nearest Roman town from the site is about 2.5 miles away, which suggests that a Roman worked in the town, amassed wealth, and built an estate in the countryside, with the Roman era grave site likely to be his grave.

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