AN ULTRA-RARE cache of Roman statues has been uncovered beneath the site of a medieval church.
The “once-in-a-lifetime” discovery of three stone busts were buried within an Ancient Roman tomb lost to history.
Roman busts were uncovered to total surprise[/caption]
The well-preserved busts were carved in Ancient Roman times[/caption]
The lost Roman artefacts were buried beneath a Norman church[/caption]
Archaeologists were excavating a Norman-era church in Stoke Mandeville, as part of Britain’s HS2 railway project.
The “final stages” of the dig involved excavating what was thought to be the foundations of an Anglo-Saxon tower.
But as the experts dug down, they uncovered three Ancient Roman stone busts.
One of the busts only had the head remaining, but the other two featured torsos.
Experts think that the complete status are an adult male and female, with the additional head representing a child.
“For us to end the dig with these utterly astounding finds is beyond exciting,” said lead archaeologist Dr Rachel Wood.
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“The statues are exceptionally well-preserved, and you really get an impression of the people they depict.
“Literally looking into the faces of the past is a unique experience.”
The statues are exceptionally well preserved with clear details of the face and clothing visible.
Archaeologists also dug up a hexagonal glass Roman jug in excellent condition.
The jug is thought to have been buried for more than 1,000 years, but still had large pieces intact.
Miraculously, almost all of the fragments were recovered.
The dig also produced large roof tiles, painted wall plaster and Roman cremation urns.
“It leads us to wonder what else might be buried beneath England’s medieval village churches,” Dr Wood explained.
“This has truly been a once-in-a-lifetime site.
“And we are all looking forward to hearing what more the specialists can tell us about these incredible statues and the history of the site before the construction of the Norman church,” added Dr Wood, of Fusion JV and L-P Archaeology.
Experts now believe that the square building pre-dating the Norman church was a Roman mausoleum.
That’s due to the fact that the recovered objects are too ornate to be a domestic building, they say.
It appears as though the Roman building was demolished by the Normans when building St Mary’s church.
But the Roman site may have been re-used beforehand during the Saxon period.
Some Saxon pottery and a contemporary coin were found at the site.
The busts were uncovered during excavations as part of the HS2 project[/caption]
Experts think remains of a Roman mausoleum may be buried beneath the church[/caption]
The discovery has been described as ‘once in a lifetime’[/caption]
Archaeologists found the Roman busts during the final stages of the dig[/caption]
Fragments of an Ancient Roman glass jug were also recovered from the site[/caption]
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