Story of mystery Roman "time capsule" burial goes on show at Corbridge Roman Town

By Culture24 Reporter | 08 August 2012
A photo of a group of four men in Roman soldier uniforms standing inside a museum
Soldiers from re-enactment group the Ermine Street Guard have used the Corbridge Hoard, which is at the centre of a new English Heritage display, as inspiration for their Roman armour© Andrew Heptinstall Photography
In 1964, a hoard found at Corbridge, in the thick of Hadrian’s Wall Country, astonished curators thanks to its well-preserved set of tools, weaponry, wax writing tablets, papyrus and other items essential to the 2nd century Roman soldier.

A photo of a female curator smiling as she attends to Roman archaeology in a museum
Curator Frances McIntosh takes a look at the Hoard© Andrew Heptinstall Photography
Almost 50 years on, an interactive display in the Roman Town aims to give the public an entirely new picture of the contents of the iron-bound, leather-covered wooden chest, bringing together the work of Roman specialists still debating precisely why the collection was buried.

“When the hoard was first discovered, it was like finding a time capsule from the past,” says Kevin Booth, a senior curator at site owners English Heritage.

“It’s a stunningly-preserved piece of history which revealed a great deal about our Roman ancestors.

“Modern-day interpretations of Roman legionary armour and re-enactors have looked to the hoard for inspiration.

“We are very proud of the way we have presented the armour. These are very sensitive and delicate objects and it is hugely important that the new display provides the most protective environment to ensure its survival.  

“In a way, though, film showing the excavation of the hoard as it was dug up from the trench back in 1964 is just as exciting.”

A photo of a young gir and her grandmotherl looking at an exhibit in a display case
The public are getting a first-glimpse of the new-look Hoard, as well as previously unseen footage of the excavation which revealed it almost 50 years ago© Andrew Heptinstall Photography
Corbridge was a vital base for military supplies and food to the Wall, later becoming a garrison town where off-duty soldiers would take their leave.

Booth and his team are relishing the chance to stir history fans and educate visiting groups with the hoard.

“It’s incredible that this world-renowned collection, which has influenced so many different portrayals of Roman life, is right here on our doorsteps in Corbridge Roman Town,” he adds.

“It has helped to shape our understanding of Roman armour.”

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