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Palaeontology

Archaeologists unearth 40 beheaded Roman skeletons

By T.K. Randall
February 8, 2022 · Comment icon 4 comments

The Romans ruled Britain for several centuries. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Rennett Stowe
The skeletons, which were found among several hundred other bodies, had their heads placed between their legs.
The chilling discovery was made by a team of 50 archaeologists who have been working on the excavation of a Roman cemetery at Fleet Marston, near Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.

The site is currently being cleared to enable the construction of a new high-speed railway link.

Exactly why 40 of the individuals interred at the site had been decapitated remains unclear, however it is a practice usually associated with the convicted criminals and outcasts of the time.

The site also yielded a sizeable number of artefacts, tools and valuables, including 1,200 coins, lead weights used in commerce, spoons, pins, brooches and sets of dice traditionally used for gambling.
The town dates back to the Roman occupation of Britain between 43 CE and 410 CE.

"The excavation is significant in both enabling a clear characterization of this Roman town but also a study of many of its inhabitants," said project manager Richard Brown.

The next step will be for the remains to be removed from the site for further study and analysis.

"All human remains uncovered will be treated with dignity, care, and respect and our discoveries will be shared with the community," said HS2 heritage head Helen Wass.



Source: Science Alert | Comments (4)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by and then 2 years ago
I always thought that beheading was THE choice for capital punishment for Roman citizens.  I did a little digging and find that the Romans were quite creative in their ways of killing the convicted but beheading was the main form it took.  What does it say about this community that one in ten who were buried there were beheaded?  Lots of other variables are involved so it may be normal but it sounds like that community was a "tough neighborhood".
Comment icon #2 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 2 years ago
Fascinating. HS2 is a terrible idea but what a find from the damaging train idea!  
Comment icon #3 Posted by jethrofloyd 2 years ago
Maybe they were the gladiators?
Comment icon #4 Posted by HollyDolly 2 years ago
Could be, or maybe criminals. It also might be possible, and just a guess, they could have encountered some british natives, and got into a skirmish. People went out in search for them, and found their bodies and heads, brought them back for burial. That's just a guess, as I really don't know much about the peoples of Roman Britian. Can't even keep up with what the rest of my family was doing in Hungary and Germany back in those days.


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