Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

King Richard III archaeological unit discovers Roman cemetery under car park

Date:
May 3, 2013
Source:
University of Leicester
Summary:
The University of Leicester archaeological unit that discovered King Richard III has spearheaded another dig and discovered a 1,700-old- Roman cemetery -- under another car park in Leicester.

Two Roman burials under excavation. Credit: University of Leicester.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Leicester

The University of Leicester archaeological unit that discovered King Richard III has spearheaded another dig and discovered a 1,700-old- Roman cemetery -- under another car park in Leicester.

The latest dig follows the historic discovery of King Richard III by colleagues from the same unit.

The find has revealed remains thought to date back to 300AD -- and includes personal items such as hairpins, rings, belt buckles and remains of shoes.

In addition, the team has found a jet ring with a curious symbol etched onto it, apparently showing the letters IX overlain. Opinion as to its meaning is divided; it may just be an attractive design but it is also reminiscent of an early Christian symbol known as an IX (Iota-Chi) monogram taken from the initials of Jesus Christ in Greek.

The University of Leicester archaeologists have also identified the unusual practice of Christian burials alongside pagan burials.

In total, archaeologists have identified 13 sets of remains at the car park in Oxford Street in Leicester's historic city centre.

Archaeological Project Officer John Thomas said: "We have discovered new evidence about a known cemetery that existed outside the walled town of Roman Leicester during the 3rd-4th Centuries AD.

"The excavation, at the junction of Oxford Street and Newarke Street, lay approximately 130m outside the south gate of Roman Leicester, adjacent to one of the main routes into the town from the south (Oxford Street). Roman law forbade burial within the town limits so cemeteries developed outside the walls, close to well-used roads.

"Previous excavations on Newarke Street had discovered numerous burials to the immediate east and north of the present site, all of which appeared to have been buried according to Christian traditions -- buried in a supine position, facing east with little or no grave goods.

"Unusually the 13 burials found during the recent excavations, of mixed age and sex, displayed a variety of burial traditions including east to west & north to south oriented graves, many with personal items such as finger rings, hairpins, buckles and hob-nailed shoes.

"One in particular appears to have been buried in a Christian tradition, facing east and wearing a polished jet finger ring on their left hand which has a possible early Christian Iota -- Chi monogram etched onto it, taking the initial letters from the Greek for Jesus Christ. If so this would represent rare evidence for a personal statement of belief from this period.

"In contrast a nearby and probably near contemporary grave appeared to indicate very different beliefs. This grave had a north-south orientation, with the body laid on its side in a semi-fetal position, with the head removed and placed near the feet alongside two complete pottery jars that would have held offerings for the journey to the afterlife. This would seem to be a very pagan burial, so it is possible from the variety of burials found that the cemetery catered for a range of beliefs that would have been important to people living in Leicester at this time."

The excavations also add information to the increasingly well documented medieval southern suburb of the town, revealing remains of 12th-13th century quarries, cess-pits and rubbish pits that would have been dug in the backyards of properties fronting onto Oxford Street.

Mr Thomas added: "All of these pits contained a wealth of information from pottery, bone and environmental remains to help build a picture of medieval life in this part of the town. A large 17th century defensive ditch running alongside Newarke Street was also discovered which was part of the town's defences during the English Civil War."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Leicester. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Leicester. "King Richard III archaeological unit discovers Roman cemetery under car park." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130503094130.htm>.
University of Leicester. (2013, May 3). King Richard III archaeological unit discovers Roman cemetery under car park. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130503094130.htm
University of Leicester. "King Richard III archaeological unit discovers Roman cemetery under car park." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130503094130.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Fossils & Ruins News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

New Pictures of Ship That Sank in 1888

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) — Federal researchers have released new images of the City of Chester, a steamship that sank in San Francisco Bay in 1888. Researchers recently found the shipwreck while mapping shipping routes. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Mich. Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth

Newsy (Apr. 20, 2014) — A 9-year-old Michigan boy was exploring a creek when he came across a 10,000-year-old tooth from a prehistoric mastodon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Couple Finds Love Letters From WWI In Attic

Newsy (Apr. 17, 2014) — A couple found love letters from World War I in their attic. They were able to deliver them to relatives of the writer of those letters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

Erotic Art Offers Glimpse of China's 'lost' Sexual Philosophy

AFP (Apr. 16, 2014) — Explicit Chinese art works dating back centuries go on display in Hong Kong, revealing China's ancient relationship with sex. Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins