Archaeologists and scientists have opened the small lead coffin, found in Leicestershire last month, to begin the long process of testing and analysis. The painstaking micro-excavation of the silts within the coffin has uncovered fragmentary remains of a child’s skeleton along with two jet bangles.
Professor Brendan Keely and Dr Matt Pickering from University of York InterArchaeology Project worked alongside University of Leicester conservator Dr Graham Morgan to remove samples of the silt which will be tested for residual evidence for biological and chemical signatures of the body and any grave accompaniments such as herbs flowers, oils and even clothing. It may also be possible to find evidence for Roman medicines or drugs.
Archaeology Warwickshire Business Manager Stuart Palmer said: “the sampling is now complete and we can confirm there are fragmentary skeletal remains in the base of the coffin. We will carefully sift through these over the coming weeks to recover as much as possible and determine if there is anything suitable for detailed analysis. This will include the submission of a sample for a radiocarbon date which we hope will narrow down the possible date range for the burial. Finding the two jet bangles was a surprise. They rather suggest that the child was female although we cannot say with certainty if they were worn as bracelets, clothing adornments or were woven into long hair”.
The scientific testing will take up-to 5 months to complete.
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Further updates will follow.