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News from TNRA

Roman sarcophagus found in Swan Street
19 July 2017

In January 2017 Pre-Construct Archaeology began to excavate the site in Swan Street which is being cleared for redevelopment. On 18 July it was announced that the excavation below the former court annexe building revealed a large robber trench around a sarcophagus (coffin) and found that the lid had been moved, suggesting that the coffin was discovered and robbed in the past. However, it is possible that only the precious items were removed, and the less valuable artefacts, such as the body itself, still remain within the stone sarcophagus.

"In my long archaeological career I have excavated many hundreds of burials, but this is the first Roman sarcophagus I have ever discovered, still surviving in its original place of deposition," said Gillian King, Southwark Council's in-house archaeologist. "I have seen them in museums, but I think part of me believed that they had probably all been found by now! It really is a very special discovery. Personally, I find it really fascinating to contemplate that this area – which we are now so familiar with – was once, during the Roman period, so completely different. It really does make me feel very honoured that my role at Southwark Council contributes to protecting amazing archaeological treasures like this, and our work means that we can ensure that the historic environment is championed and preserved for the enjoyment of us and future generations."

Cllr Peter John, the leader of Southwark Council, said: "This is a remarkable and exciting find. In Southwark we take our duty as custodians of the borough's rich, varied and important archaeological heritage very seriously. "This Roman sarcophagus is the find of a lifetime and a credit to the council's commitment to ensuring that the borough's history is properly conserved."

18 October 2017  » Sign In

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