Ancient Roman sarcophagus discovered by builders

Ancient Roman sarcophagus discovered by builders

The Museum of London has a new artefact - an ancient sarcophagus discovered in London's Southwark

Museum of London

Considered an exceptional archeological find, builders from Galliard Construction discovered the stone sarcophagus while working on a new residential development in Southwark. The coffin will be opened by experts at the Museum of London, who anticipate finding some artefacts as well as bone fragments from its occupant

The sarcophagus is an exceptional find for London, where only two similar late Roman sarcophagi have been discovered in recent years in their original burial place: one from St Martin-in-the Fields near Trafalgar Square (2006) and one from Spitalfields in 1999.
 
The excavation, which started in January this year, revealed a large robber trench around the coffin and found that the lid had been moved, suggesting that the coffin was discovered and robbed in the past. However, it is possible that only precious items were removed, and the less valuable artefacts remain within the stone sarcophagus.
 
Southwark and the City of London are the only two London Boroughs that have their own in-house dedicated archaeologist. Southwark Council champions archaeology and has dedicated planning policies to ensure that the borough’s ancient history is identified, protected and managed for future generations. 
 
Recent archaeological research suggests the area of Roman Southwark where the find was made was a focus of ritual activity. The area further forms a complex ritual landscape containing various religious and funerary monuments and a vast dispersed Roman cemetery (sites such as Dickens Square, Lant Street and Trinity Street) incorporating a range of burial practices, often with exotic grave goods sourced from across the Roman Empire. 
 
Gillian King, Senior Planner: Archaeology, at Southwark Council, says this latest find is exciting: 'In my long archaeological career I have excavated many hundreds of burials, but this is the first Roman sarcophagus I have ever discovered, still surviving in its original place of deposition. I have seen them in museums, but I think part of me believed that they had probably all been found by now! 
 
'It really is a very special discovery.  Personally, I find it really fascinating to contemplate that this area - which we are now so familiar with - was once, during the Roman period, so completely different.  It really does make me feel very honoured that my role at Southwark Council contributes to protecting amazing archaeological treasures like this, and our work means that we can ensure that the historic environment is championed and preserved for the enjoyment of us and future generations.'
 
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