While archaeologists were busy excavating a medieval site in Cumbria, they were surprised to discover the perfectly preserved remains of a Roman skeleton in a field very close to Bridekirk.
As Cumbria Crack reports, the skeleton was unearthed while archaeologists were studying an area where a new water pipeline had just been installed by United Utilities. While archaeologists fully expected to find nothing but medieval remains and structures at this location, they ended up finding not only the Roman skeleton but also large amounts of pottery, coins, heating tiles, and an ancient oven.
As CFA archaeologist Phil Mann described, “Literally as we took the grass off we exposed the foundations of the medieval building, but what we didn’t expect to find underneath were the foundations for a very unusual large Roman structure containing the remains of a kiln or oven with evidence of burning still present.”
Beneath a large amount of backfill very close to this medieval building, archaeologists noticed a skeleton placed carefully upon the floor. While grave cuts are normally visible at the start of excavations, nothing prepared archaeologists for the discovery of the Roman remains in Cumbria, which suggested to those involved that the body had been placed at the site sometime during the medieval era.
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Archaeologists believe that the Roman structure found in Cumbria may date back to between the 2nd and 3rd centuries A.D. and may have once been used to manufacture tiles for buildings located at a settlement which was once very near to the site. Once the manufacturing ceased and the buildings began to crumble, its stones were most likely used for more modern medieval buildings.
When archaeologists studied the Roman skeleton to ascertain whether foul play had been involved, they determined that a violent death had not occurred and that the individual in question had most likely endured some form of degenerative joint disease. While it is not yet known whether this disease may have played a role in his death, the man did die sometime between the age of 35 and 40 while still suffering from this ailment.
While Mann noted that archaeologists are still uncertain as to why the Roman man was buried at the Cumbria site, an investigation into his association with this location is currently ongoing, as is the work centered around the remains of the Roman building that was also found here.
“We don’t know what happened to the man or why he was buried there as he was. Perhaps he was a member of grange staff who had an association with this building. It could have been old age that killed him. In those days people did not live as long as they do now. But the Roman building is a very exciting and unusual find. You don’t usually find such large Roman buildings outside the site of a Roman town or a military complex.”
Once the Roman skeleton’s remains have been fully analyzed, archaeologists in Cumbria will be re-burying him in a new spot that will probably not stray too far from where he was first discovered.