Archeologists discovered a group of “amazing” rare Roman sculptures while digging a location in England ahead of a high-speed rail project, according to a statement from the train industry.
Archeologists discovered two full statues of a lady and a man, as well as the head of a child, while digging a ditch around the remains of an Anglo-Saxon tower at the site of the ancient St Mary’s Norman church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire, southeast England.
The three “stylistically Roman” busts were discovered while specialists working on the High Speed 2 (HS2) project dug deeper, an “astonishing” discovery, according to archeologists. “For us to complete the dig with this totally astonishing discovery is beyond thrilling,” said Rachel Wood, the lead archeologist at Fusion JV, who is working on the project.
“The sculptures are incredibly well maintained, and you get a true sense of the individuals they portray – really peering into the faces of the past is a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Wood added.
“Of course, this begs the question of what else is buried beneath England’s medieval village churches.” This has undoubtedly been a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we are all eager to learn more from the experts about these magnificent sculptures and the history of the site prior to the construction of the Norman church.”
Two of the busts had a split head and body, which experts say is “not entirely unusual” because sculptures are frequently defaced before being destroyed.
Huge roof tiles, painted wall plaster, and Roman cremation urns were also discovered, as well as an “extremely well-preserved” hexagonal glass Roman jug — which had enormous parts intact despite being over 1,000 years old — and large roof tiles, painted wall plaster, and Roman cremation urns.
The team believes the site, which consists of a natural mound topped with material to form a higher mound, was a Bronze Age burial site. This was eventually replaced by a square structure thought to be a Roman tomb by scholars.
“Roman items uncovered in the ditch around the site are too elaborate and insufficient in number to imply the structure was a domestic building,” HS2 stated in a news release.
The discoveries will be cleaned and examined in a specialized laboratory.