History Files


Roman Britain

Roman VIP Found at Burial Ground

Edited from BBC News, 18 May 2007

A burial ground found under the A2 in Kent in the mid-2000s marked out the area as one of the most important sites of Roman Britain.

Archaeologists stated at the time that the burial site, near Gravesend, ranked with those which had been found at the most important Roman cities such as Camulodunum (Colchester) and Verulamium (St Albans).

Three graves were found during a routine dig before work started on a 122m road-widening scheme. Archaeologist Tim Allen said that one of the bodies, which had been cremated, was clearly of a 'very important person'.

There was known to be a enclosure on the site, near the Roman town of Springhead, but it was believed to be a rural farmstead.

'At the bottom of the pit, we came across the metal handles of a wooden board, and later a set of twenty-three glass counters and two bone dice, suggesting that we had found a gaming board,' said Mr Allen. 'These finds are rare, and mostly occur in graves, so we carefully took down the other half of the pit, and sure enough, it was full of grave offerings.'

The remains included half a pig, which would have been food for the afterlife, and a large safety pin brooch. The second burial site contained fifteen pots, a bronze jug, and another cremated body with a brooch.

In the third of the burial sites was a wooden box with a polished bronze mirror and several copper rings. Enough of the skull survived for archaeologists to be confident that the body was that of a woman.

The relics subsequently went on display at Shorne Wood Country Park visitor centre, Gravesend, Kent for just two days.

Sequential Maps of Roman Britain AD 43-410
Rome spent much of the second half of the first century AD expanding its line of conquests across the British Isles, but also facing the urgent situation which was created by the Boudiccan revolt in AD 61 - a prestigious architectural display of Roman power was needed to show these Britons who was in charge (click or tap on map to view the entire sequence)



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