Visitors to the English city of Bath may be familiar with the long history of Sydney Gardens, a lush space that has long been Jane Austen’s favorite destination. In 2019, a plan to renovate the gardens was announced. While these renovations were underway, a group of archaeologists discovered something unexpected on the ground – something reminiscent of a much older period in English history.
Writing to ARTnews, Jesse Holth has news of the discovery – a sarcophagus dating from when England was under Roman rule. “The sarcophagus, made of local limestone, contained two sets of human remains with a partial skeleton lying at the feet of the other, and faced north, indicating that it was probably a pagan burial”, writes Holth.
Currently, the local government’s plan is to analyze the two skeletons and then re-bury the bodies. The sarcophagus itself could remain above ground, in a display specially designed to help shed light on the history of the area.
The excavations were carried out by LP Archeology, which became involved in the renovation efforts once an ancient Roman wall was discovered in the process. “Having a human skeleton directly associated with a coffin is a rarity and having this associated with a probable votive offering and human cremation nearby, allows for a very rare glimpse into funeral practices in the region nearly two millennia ago. “said Kelly Madigan, a partner at the firm.
It’s a fascinating glimpse into the history of the region – and it’s one that can reveal even more about a bygone era for Bath.
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