Archaeologists find skeletal remains of child in Leicestershire Roman coffin

By Culture24 Reporter | 13 November 2013

The Roman coffin found in Leicestershire last month contains the skeletal remains of a young girl and may yield further telling finds, say experts.

A photo of two fingers holding a small, thin black ring
A "painstaking" micro-excavation has taken place in the midlands© Archaeology Warwickshire
Fragmentary remains of a young girl’s skeleton and two mysterious jet bangles have been found inside a lead coffin carefully prised open after being found by archaeologists and scientists in Leicestershire last month.

Excavated in a village field, experts expect the coffin to provide residual evidence of biological and chemical bodily “signatures”, grave accompaniments such as herbs, flowers, oil and clothing and possible evidence of Roman medicines and drugs.

“The sampling is now complete,” explained Stuart Palmer, of Archaeology Warwickshire, who said the bone remnants had been uncovered at the base of the coffin.

“Finding the two jet bangles was a surprise. They rather suggest that the child was female, although we cannot say with certainty if they were worn as bracelets, clothing adornments or were woven into long hair”.

“We will carefully sift through these over the coming weeks to recover as much as possible and determine if there is anything suitable for detailed analysis.

“This will include the submission of a sample for a radiocarbon date which we hope will narrow down the possible date range for the burial.

Professor Brendan Keely and Dr Matt Pickering, of the University of York’s InterArchaeology Project, worked with Dr Graham Morgan, a conservator from the University of Leicester, to remove samples of the silt for testing. They expect their investigations to take several months to complete.

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A photo of an outstretched palm against a blue cloth on which a thin black ring sits
Testing and analysis is expected to be carried out over a long period© Archaeology Warwickshire
A photo of two small rings laid out on a white table next to each other
Grave accompaniments could be discovered during the coming months© Archaeology Warwickshire
A photo of three people digging brown soil out of part of a wooden coffin inside a lab
Finder Chris Wright looks on as Dr Matt Pickering and Professor Brendon Keely of University of York InterArchive Archaeology Project micro-excavate the lead coffin© Archaeology Warwickshire
More on this story:

Warwickshire archaeologists find Roman coffin in Witherley field, Leicestershire
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