Roman skeletons unearthed during HS2 rail construction (Warning: Post contains burial images)

The UK’s HS2 rail construction project has unearthed more Roman skeletons, some of which are decapitated.

Archaeologists at COPA are working on a 2,000-year-old site at Akeman Road in Buckinghamshire. The dig has been ongoing for a year and so far 425 skeletons have been found – around 10 percent have been decapitated and some have their heads buried between their legs. Decapitation was sometimes practised during burial in Roman times – and the site also has evidence that some burials were cremations, which were even more rare during the Roman era.

A decapitated Roman skeleton at Fleet Marston, in Buckinghamshire

The site at Fleet Marston near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire comprises two distinct areas – and the team says that it may be burials were arranged according to ethnicity, as the Roman empire was diverse. There is evidence that agriculture expanded in the area – and it is possible that workers came from other countries within the Roman empire. Placing the head between the legs of the deceased might also indicate that they were either criminals or miscreants in some way. The heads were placed near the feet of the deceased.

A Roman die used for gaming found at Fleet Marston In Bucks, UK

Akeman Road was one of the main routes during Roman times, stretching from the capital Verulamium (now St Albans) to Corinium Dobunnorum (now Cirencester). There was a Roman garrison at nearby Bicester, known as Alchester Fort.

Google map showing the location of Fleet Marston in Buckinghamshire, UK

The archaeological team has recovered a diverse selection of artefacts from the site – including jewellery, food and drinks vessels and implements, and leisure items like dice. There is also evidence of different trades, including brewing.

A Roman-era brooch from the excavation at Fleet
Marston in the UK

COPA is a consortium consisting of Cotswold ArchaeologyOxford Archaeology and Pre-Construct Archaeology. The team is responsible for the HS2 Phase 1 Enabling Works and beyond the project. You can find out more about the projects they are working on at their website.

You can also watch a video of the HS2 excavations online at the Daily Mail website.

Buon viaggio!

Source and images: Daily Mail

A small Roman pot found during HS2 excavations at Fleet Marston, near Aylesbury

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