Decapitated skeletons of Roman ‘criminals’ discovered in railway digs in England

By Sana Noor Haq, CNN

About 40 decapitated skeletons discovered by a group of archaeologists in the south of England belong to “criminals” from the Roman era, according to researchers.

The skeletons were found when archaeologists from England’s High Speed ​​2 (HS2) program uncovered a late Roman burial ground believed to be the largest of its kind in Buckinghamshire.

A team of 50 archaeologists had been working at the site for over a year, where they also found sections of a Roman town in the local village of Fleet Marston, as well as over 1,200 coins, gambling dice , bells, spoons, pins and brooches. .

The residential settlement was also probably used as a stopping place for soldiers and passers-by traveling through Fleet Marston en route to the Roman town of Alchester.

The cemetery contained about 425 graves in total, the railway company said in a statement.

The number of burials, as well as the settlement itself, implied that large numbers of people arrived in the city during the mid to late Roman period – potentially due to inflated agricultural production.

One explanation for the use of beheading as a funerary practice could be that the skeletons were once “criminals or a type of outcast”, although such a process was a norm in the late Roman period, the statement adds. .

The cemetery mainly housed buried graves as burial was common at the time, but there were also cremation graves.

“The excavations are important because they allow both a clear characterization of this Roman city but also a study of many of its inhabitants,” said Richard Brown, senior project manager at COPA JV, a consortium of archaeologists working for the project account.

“With several new Roman settlement sites discovered during the HS2 work, it enhances and fills in the map of Roman Buckinghamshire,” Brown added.

Archaeologists from the HS2 excavation program have unearthed a treasure trove of finds in Buckinghamshire in recent months, including a set of rare Roman statues and a wooden figure believed to be 2,000 years old.

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