Dorset

Roman skeleton with 'bent feet' found at Dorset quarry

  • 23 September 2016
  • From the section Dorset
Skeleton of a Roman man unearthed at Woodsford Quarry Image copyright Hills Quarry
Image caption Tests are being carried out to find out how the man died

The skeleton of a Roman man who had his feet bent backwards to fit in his coffin has been found in a quarry in Dorset.

Archaeologists made the discovery at Woodsford, near Dorchester, where they have been carrying out excavations for several years.

Thames Valley Archaeological Services said the man died in his 20s or 30s.

Tests are being carried out to determine how he died and to understand more about his "unusual grave".

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Image copyright Hills Quarry
Image caption The remains were found in a 1.80m (5ft 9in)-long, 0.55m (1ft 8in)-wide and 0.3m (1ft)-deep grave

The limestone sarcophagus was found in a 1.80m (5ft 11in)-long, 0.55m (1ft 10in)-wide and 0.3m (1ft)-deep grave.

Thames Valley Archaeologist Services said an initial examination of the bones had revealed no signs of disease or other unusual conditions.

'Short coffin'

Dr Steve Ford, from the group, said: "In the Roman period, burial in a sarcophagus was moderately common in Italy but very unusual in Britain, where even wooden coffins seem to have been rare.

"A stone sarcophagus was certainly a very prestigious item, and their distribution across the country is restricted."

He said about 100 had been discovered in England with only 11 previously found in Dorset at Poundbury.

He added: "This sarcophagus may have been reused, as it was several centimetres too short for the corpse, whose feet had to be tucked under him."

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