1,800 Years Old Roman Tombstone Unearthed In England

On February 2015, a 1,800-year-old rare Roman tombstone was discovered by archaeologists near the construction site of a parking lot in Cirencester, in western England. When it was turned over, the honey colored stone revealed fine decorations and five lines of Latin inscription which read: “D.M. BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII,” possibly meaning: “To the shades of the underworld, Bodicacia, spouse, lived 27 years.” Because of its inscription, archaeologists know who was buried in the grave: a 27-year-old woman named Bodica.

The grave dates to the 2nd century, at a time when Cirencester was the second-largest city in Britain after London. The stone has very finely carved decorative details, Holbrook said, suggesting that Bodica had money or was married to someone with money. Inside the pediment, there's a sculpture of the Roman god Oceanus, perhaps to mark the "watery journey" between life and death, Neil Holbrook of Cotswold Archaeology said.

Mysterious Roman inscription
Credit: Cotswold Archaeology

The discovery was hailed as unique since the stone was believed to be the only tombstone from Roman Britain to record the person found beneath. However, while the dedication on the tombstone is to a woman, the skeleton beneath it was that of a male.

It turns out the gravestone and skeleton were also laid at different times — the inscribed stone was early Roman, dating to the 2nd century A.D., while the burial was most certainly late Roman, from the 4th century A.D..

Unlikely to have been a free-standing tombstone, the five-foot-long inscribed stone may have rather been set into walls, possibly those of a mausoleum. Who the grave belonged to remains a mystery.






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