Warwickshire archaeologists find Roman coffin in Witherley field, Leicestershire

By Ceirney Eddie | 05 November 2013

A Warwickshire archaeology team has started the process of examining a suspected child coffin found in a field in the Leicestershire village of Witherley.

a photo of a man excavating a small lead coffin
© Archaeology Warwickshire
Metal detectorist, Chris Wright, pinpointed the coffin and immediately called in Leicestershire Country Council.

Senior planning archaeologist, Teresa Hawtin, approached Archaeology Warwickshire on behalf of Mr Wright, as specialist archaeological procedures were required.

She was able to advise Mr Wright that the coffin could not be moved without Ministry of Justice approval.

A photo of a scientist in a lab coat working on a small section of a wooden Roman coffin
© Archaeology Warwickshire
In the meantime, Mr Wright believed his unopened discovery was at risk from other treasure hunters.

Arrangements were made for the recovery of the coffin and the most appropriate course of action for its conservation.

Archaeology Warwickshire Business Manager, Stuart Palmer, confirmed: “We are delighted to be able to help with this potentially extremely important find”.

Archaeology Warwickshire then inserted an endoscope through a gap in the lid, revealing that the coffin was almost entirely full of clay silt.

Careful cleaning of the coffin lining showed that it was astonishingly panel-beaten from a single sheet of lead marked out with a sharp implement.

Joins at the ends were sealed with molten lead and hammer marks are still visible around the folded lid.

Robert Jones, an exhumation expert working on the coffin, said: “It looks like we will be able to open the lid with little chance of encountering organic remains”.

Mr Palmer said that it will be taken back to Archaeology Warwickshire offices where they can examine the find under laboratory conditions.

The archaeologists intend to discover what the find tells them about Roman period life, health and death.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

More pictures:

A photo of two archaeologists in high-visibility jackets working within a muddy trench
© Archaeology Warwickshire
A photo of a scientist in a white coat moving a wooden block inside a laboratory
© Archaeology Warwickshire
A photo of a hand conserving a Roman coffin with a small paintbrush
© Archaeology Warwickshire
You might also like:

Curators' Choice: The Roman eagle sculpture found by Museum of London Archaeology

Warrington returns Toi moko mummified Maori head to New Zealand's Te Papa Tongarewa

Curator's Choice: Dr Matt Thompson on the romance and excitement of an ancient wheel

Latest comment: >Make a comment
Such a great discovery. I know its not far from Mancetter where there was a Roman camp etc. Am I right in thinking that only high status people would have had a lead coffin? Its very interesting and look forward to hearing more
>See all comments
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    Related listings (127)
    See all related listings »
    Sites we like (30)
    Related resources (193)
    See all related resources »