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Roman-Era Cemetery Discovered in Southwest England

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

England Roman HobnailSOMERSET, ENGLAND—According to a report in The Guardian, a Roman-era cemetery containing the remains of some 50 adults and children has been discovered in southwest England. Most of the 2,000-year-old graves were lined and capped with slabs of local stone in a manner resembling local roof construction of the time. In one grave, the slabs were positioned to create a tent-like structure. The position of one woman’s skull in another grave suggests her head had been laid to rest on a pillow. Tiny nails recovered at the foot of many of the graves indicate that the occupants had been buried wearing hobnail boots. Jewelry, a coin minted during the first-century A.D. reign of the emperor Vespasian, a carved bone knife handle, and pottery were also recovered at the site. One of the pots contained a chicken wing bone. Steve Membery of the South West Heritage Trust said those who died during the Roman period may have lived and worked at a nearby villa. Older graves at the site, however, offer clues to the burial customs of local Britons before the Roman invasion. Analysis of DNA samples could reveal if Roman-era Britons adopted Roman burial customs, or if those buried in the Roman graves originated somewhere else. To read about another Roman cemetery in England, go to "Foreign Funeral Rites."

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