Update #1: Scientists prepare to open 1700 year old lead coffin found buried in field near Leicestershire, UK

Photo via the Tamworth Herald of the coffin being examined.

Photo via the Tamworth Herald of the coffin being examined.

Last week, a small lead coffin was unearthed in field near Tamworth and Leicestershire, by a metal detector enthusiast club, Digging Up The Past.   The coffin, believed between 1600 and 1900 years old, was found four feet underground, and about two miles away from the site of a Roman settlement and fort.  The coffin has been in the possession of Archaeology Warwickshire since its discovery, and in the coming days, experts will prepare to open it.  The team working on the coffin now believe it to be about 1700 years old.

The Tamworth Herald reports that Archaeology Warwickshire’s exhumation expert Rob Jones who has been working on the coffin said: “It looks like we will be able to open the lid and excavate the contents in a controlled manner with little chance of encountering organic remains.”  Experts are excited to view the coffin’s contents because rarity of finding such a burial and the high infant mortality during this period.  It will be interesting to see if scientists can find the child’s cause of death.

But team has already found some interesting things from this artifact’s exterior.  As they cleaned the coffin lining, they discovered it was panel-beaten from a single sheet of lead marked out with a sharp implement, the joins at the ends were sealed with molten lead, and hammer marks are still visible around the folded lid.

Historian say that during Roman occupation, the area of Tamworth was nestled between Ratae (modern Leicester) and the military fortress now called Wall near Lichfield, so it have been a center of Roman activity.

Jim Beestone, a Roman historian who lives in Tamworth told the Tamworth Herald that goods that were to be exported to Rome had to travel through this area.  “Lead was an expensive material, and the presence of a lead coffin is an indicator that some of the people living locally were extremely wealthy.”

Read more at The Tamworth Herald

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Update #2: More on the contents of the 1700 year old coffin of Roman child

A lead coffin, believed to belong to a Roman child who died about 1700 years ago, found in Leicestershire, UK

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