Slave Burials/Remains from London?

This is one of those items where some details seem to have been left out along the way … from the Evening Standard:

The Romans founded London as a centre of trade and business in about AD 50 – or so archaeologists have long believed.

But new evidence suggests the capital has a more chilling history, built as a military base by slaves who were then slaughtered. Hundreds of skulls discovered along the course of the “lost” river Walbrook suggest London may have been built by forced labour.

Dominic Perring, director of the Centre for Applied Archaeology at University College London, says the skulls could be those of Queen Boudica’s rebel Iceni tribesmen who were brought to London to build a new military base.

In an essay published in this month’s British Archaeology magazine, Mr Perring argues that some of the skulls had been de-fleshed, which suggests the slaves may have been executed after building work was finished.

Mike Pitts, the editor of British Archaeology, said: “At a time when we’re all wondering and worrying about the future of the City of London it’s interesting to reflect on its foundation, which seems to have been very bloody indeed.

“The team has been looking at the evidence accumulated from decades of new excavation, and they offer a more convincing, and chilling, alternative to what has long been believed.”

Mr Perring added: “The timbers were prepared using ‘native’ British woodworking techniques, unlike the Roman carpentry used everywhere else. Might this have been the work of forced labour? Several hundred late Iron Age or early Roman skulls, from a population that must have numbered in thousands, have been found in and around the Walbrook and were predominantly of young males. London’s civic centre was ignored in the rebuilding, and no new temples or basilicas were erected. This suggests London lacked independent legal status and remained under direct military control.

“It was singled out for attention in the period after the revolt because of its military importance, as both the site of an earlier fort and the principal port that supplied the army. This was the commanding centre from which Roman power in Britain was exercised.”

… I’m going to have to get the article in question before commenting on this one, I think.

Cirencester Cockerel Find

Very interesting item from the BBC:

A Roman cockerel figurine thought to have been made to accompany a child’s grave has been unearthed in Gloucestershire.

The 1,800-year-old enamelled object was found during an archaeological dig at one of Britain’s earliest-known burial sites in Cirencester.

It is thought the bronze cockerel, which is 12.5cm high, could have been a message to the gods.

Archaeologist Neil Holbrook said it was a “most spectacular” find.

The elaborately-decorated cockerel is believed to be Roman, probably dating back to the 2nd Century AD.

According to experts, religious significance was given to the cockerel by the Romans and the artistic subject is known to be connected with Mercury, the messenger to the gods.

They said it was Mercury who was also responsible for conducting newly-deceased souls to the afterlife.
‘Made in Britain’

Mr Holbrook, chief executive at Cotswold Archaeology, said the cockerel had been excavated from the grave of a young child and had been placed close to his or her head.

“Interestingly a very similar item was found in Cologne in Germany and it looks like they both could have come from the same workshop based in Britain,” he added.

The object was discovered in early November and held back to allow the dig to continue uninterrupted.
Enamelled cockerel found by Cotswold Archaeology The bronze enamelled figurine is 12.5cm in height

It will now be cleaned, conserved, and possibly then displayed at the Corinium Museum in Cirencester.

Other finds from this grave include a small pottery tettine or feeding bottle, which was unfortunately highly fragmented. This will also undergo conservation work.

Excavations have been taking place at the former Bridges Garage on Tetbury Road in the town.

Earlier, experts said the unearthed burial site was the largest archaeological find in Cirencester since the 1970s.

… photos of the item at the BBC site, of course. It looks like it will probably be even more interesting once they clean it up.