“Very rare.” The discovery of a hidden coffin of a Roman aristocratic woman in England

Dubai, United Arab Emirates (CNN) — Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Roman aristocratic woman in northern England.

The unidentified woman’s skeleton, believed to be more than 1,000 years old, was found in a main sarcophagus in a hidden cemetery in Leeds last year.

The remains of 62 people were found at the previously unknown archaeological site near Garforth.

A team of archaeologists discovered burials of men, women and 23 children at the site.

Among the remains discovered in the cemetery in England.
Credit: West Yorkshire Joint Services/Leeds City Council

It is believed that the bodies belong to people who lived in the late Roman and early Saxon eras, as burial customs belonging to the two eras were found in those graves, according to what was stated in a press release published by Leeds City Council on Monday.

David Hunter, principal archaeologist with West Yorkshire Joint Services, told CNN Monday that the discovery came to light after a commercial developer applied for planning permission to the council.

An archaeological survey of the area, whose exact location has yet to be revealed, led to the discovery of the remains last spring.

“We definitely got more than we bargained for,” Hunter told CNN.

The lead-lined coffin is considered “extremely rare”. It is believed that he embraced the body of a woman of high status.
Credit: West Yorkshire Joint Services/Leeds City Council

Hunter and his team had good reason to assume the site had archaeological significance, since they had found nearby Roman and Anglo-Saxon structures during previous excavations, but he emphasized the following: “We didn’t expect to find 62 tombs at this site.”

Hunter described the original sarcophagus as “very rare,” noting that “the lead sheet formation lining a larger wooden sarcophagus, so it’s a Roman figure of very high stature.”

The remains in the tomb included men, women, and children.
Credit: West Yorkshire Joint Services/Leeds City Council

The coffin also contained pieces of jewelry that reinforced the team’s suspicions about the person buried inside.

Archaeologists hope the 1,600-year-old tomb will help them understand the important and largely undocumented transition between the fall of the Roman Empire and the establishment of the later Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

After the Romans left Britain, West Yorkshire annexed the kingdom of Elamt.

Even after the Romans left, many regions, including Ilmet, continued to display elements of Roman and Anglo-Saxon culture, and this continued for about 200 years.

“This is potentially a discovery of great importance when it comes to our understanding of the development of ancient Britain and Yorkshire,” Hunter said in the statement.

He added that “two communities using the same burial site is very unusual, and whether or not their use of this cemetery overlapped will determine the significance of the discovery.”

The remains will undergo tests and analysis, including carbon dating, to help the team determine precise time frames and learn details of individuals’ diets and their ancestors.

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