It is not everyday you discover an array of Roman artifacts and grave goods by just the aid of your metal detector. But that is exactly what happened with one Phil Kirk, who came across an entire Roman grave in last year’s October, and that too inside a small village named Kelshall that is situated between London and Cambridge. Dating from around 200 AD, Kirk chanced upon the range of artifacts when he was exploring the area with his metal detector. Encouraged by an earlier find of a Roman coin, his latest trip yielded items like bronze jugs, paterae, bottles, mosaic glassware, coins and even shoes from the grave site. What’s more, our intrepid discoverer later contacted archaeologists, and they have possibly found ruins of a Roman temple (or shrine) that was connected to a villa. In light of all these precious objects and the scale of the grave, the patron of the site was most probably a wealthy Roman. According to Fitzpatrick-Matthews, the archaeology and outreach officer of the region, the site was only judged to be a burial ground when the experts came across a hexagonal bottle. He said –
It quickly became apparent that the large hexagonal bottle was stuffed full with cremated bone. Suddenly, that explained everything. We were looking at a wealthy burial.
The wealth factor is also demonstrated by the ‘exotic’ nature of the artifacts. For example, the researchers did find mosaic glass plates that were probably of Egyptian or Western European make (pictured above). This discovery was complemented by a fragment of lava, two glass cups inside a wooden box, and a denarius (silver coin) that antithetically features Emperor Trajan, who ruled from 98 – 117 AD. As a matter of fact, this coin has most baffled the historians studying the site, since its date doesn’t match up with the other objects found in the area (that date from around 200 AD). And, beyond just the scope of the discovery, there is a special symbolic side to this lavish grave that is a rarity in Roman inspired sites. To that end, a pair of found sandals alludes to the Roman myth (inspired by their Greek predecessors) of an underworld journey that is taken by the soul till the River Styx, after the person’s death. Furthermore, the archaeologists have also found a worn-out bronze coin inside a cremation urn. This likely served as a symbolic payment to Charon, the supernatural entity who ferried the souls across the River Styx.
Via: Live Science
All Images Credit: Tony Fitzpatrick-Matthews.