Archaeologists uncovered the remains of a Roman aristocrat in Leeds, England, according to a Monday press release from the city.
Archaeologists discovered the remains inside a large lead coffin found inside a once-lost cemetery believed to be at least 1,600 years old, according to the press release. The body inside the lead coffin is believed to have belonged to a late-Roman aristocratic woman. She was found alongside the remains of more than 60 different men, women and children who likely lived in the region during the Roman occupation.
Some of the bodies could have belonged to Saxon-era individuals, as the customs from both cultures were identified within the various burial sites. Archaeologists are hopeful the discovery can paint a sharper image of life during the fall of the Roman empire, in roughly 400 A.D., and how England transitioned to Saxon rule.
“It is every archaeologist’s dream to work on a ‘once in a lifetime’ site, and supervising these excavations is definitely a career-high for me,” on-site supervisor Kylie Buxton said in the release. “There is always a chance of finding burials, but to have discovered a cemetery of such significance, at such a time of transition, was quite unbelievable. For me it was a particular honour to excavate the high-status lead coffin burial, but it was a great team effort by everyone involved.”
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Carbon dating will now take place to try and estimate the exact age of the remains, as well as additional testing to determine the diets and ancestry of the individuals uncovered. But the most notable aspect of the find is that both Roman and Saxon communities used the same site, according to the press release.
“The presence of two communities using the same burial site is highly unusual and whether their use of this graveyard overlapped or not will determine just how significant the find is. When seen together the burials indicate the complexity and precariousness of life during what was a dynamic period in Yorkshire’s history,” West Yorkshire Joint Services principal archaeologist David Hunter said.
Evidence at the site also points to early Christian beliefs. Though the site was discovered in 2022, researchers kept it a secret until Monday so testing could take place. (RELATED: Researchers Claim They’ve Deciphered An Ancient Tablet That Confirms A Biblical Narrative)
Archaeologists recently uncovered an ancient Roman shrine in Leicester, England, the BBC reported March 7. The Roman empire invaded the British isles in 43 A.D., conquering the Welsh and other Celtic cultures and attempting to commit genocide against the Druids who had long called the archipelago home, according to British Heritage.