Gloucestershire

Chedworth Roman glass fish 'exceptionally rare'

Illustration of what the complete fish bottle may have looked like Image copyright National Trust/Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press
Image caption The piece of glass next to an artist's impression of what it may have looked like

A piece of a rare Roman fish-shaped glass bottle has been identified, two years after it was found by an archaeologist in Gloucestershire.

The shard of 1,800-year-old coloured glass, with a fish scale pattern, was found at Chedworth Roman Villa in 2017.

Experts say it came from a bottle that may have contained perfume, and was imported from what is now Crimea.

The piece was finally identified because it was similar to an item on display in New York.

Experts took two years to identify the type of bottle it came from due to its "exceptional rarity", a spokesperson for the National Trust, which owns the villa, said.

The only other example of such a fish-shaped Roman bottle comes from a 2nd-Century burial in Crimea.

Image copyright National Trust/Rod Kirkpatrick/F Stop Press
Image caption Archaeologist Peter Moore uncovered the fragment in 2017

The trust's Nancy Grace said people had been "enchanted" by the object.

"To have found that it is the only one of its type so far discovered in Roman Britain adds to our knowledge of the importance of Chedworth Roman Villa," she said.

Peter Moore, an archaeologist and masters student at the University of York, who found the piece of glass, said "it quickly became apparent it was something special".

"Excavating anything at Chedworth, and knowing that you are the first person to gaze upon it for at least 1,800 years, is a feeling that never tires; the memory of recovering this piece of glass certainly will not."

The fragment was found to match a fish-shaped bottle that had been restored from many pieces, at the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.

It is to go on display at the Gloucestershire villa throughout summer.

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