A child’s coffin believed to date back to the 3rd Century AD is being examined by archaeologists in Warwickshire.
It was found beneath a Leicestershire field by two men, one of whom is a Nottingham gravedigger, using metal detectors.
An ancient gold ring thought to have inspired JRR Tolkien to write The Hobbit is on display at a Tudor house.
The ring, which is inscribed in Latin and has been linked to a Roman curse tablet, is being exhibited for the first time at The Vyne, in Hampshire.
Archaeologist Sir Mortimer Wheeler is believed to have discussed the ring with Tolkien after realising its connection to the curse.
It was found in a farmer’s field in Silchester in 1785.
The ancient artefact is also inset with an image of the goddess Venus, and lay forgotten in the library of the National Trust property for several years.
It is believed Sir Mortimer asked for Tolkien’s expertise in 1929. Tolkien was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.
The ring has been linked to a curse tablet found at the site of a Roman temple dedicated to the god Nodens in Gloucestershire.
Tolkien worked on the etymology of the name Nodens and repeatedly visited the temple.
His fantasy novel The Hobbit was published in 1937. The “One Ring”, which plays a central role in Lord of the Rings, is also gold and contains an inscription in a fictional language called the “Black Speech of Mordor”.
A “Ring Room” has been created at The Vyne in association with the Tolkien Society.
A spokesman said it told the “incredible story of this ring, the Roman tablet inscribed with a curse on the man who stole it, and its fascinating connections with Tolkien.”
Normally, the tale of a chess game ends with the capture of a king.
The story of this unique piece of gaming history, however, starts with the execution of one.
Chess enthusiast King Charles I of England, to be precise, who went to see the executioner in January of 1649 after being found guilty of high treason. When he went to meet his maker, he took with him two treasured possessions: his Bible, and this amber chessboard, which this week sold at a London auction for a record £601,250 — almost $970,000.
Made in Prussia in 1607, the board passed into the hands of the English Royal Family and found its way to Charles I via either his father, James I, or his brother, Henry Frederick. After Charles’ execution it was taken by Bishop William Juxon, who ministered to Charles after his death. It remained in the Juxon family until the 1700s.
Sculpture expert Erik Bijzet of London auction house Sotheby’s described the board as “a tour-de-force of amber working,” in an interview with The Daily Mail.
“We only know of four comparable boards, none of which have seemed to survive in good condition,” he said.
In addition to being a chessboard, the object also unfolds into configurations allowing it to be used to play backgammon, one of the oldest known games in the world, and Nine Men’s Morris, a simple strategy game of Roman origins.
Here’s hoping its new owner, an unnamed private collector, has better luck than Charles
The finds were made by archaeologists during the laying of a four-mile (7km) long mains between Banwell and Hutton.
Among the skeletons, which have been exhumed for further study, there was one in a partially-preserved coffin.
A Bristol Water spokesman said the excavation had been described as “potentially the most important for 100 years in North Somerset”.
The cemetery was discovered “isolated from the surrounding landscape” in a curved water-filled ditch.
Roman cemeteries, according to Neil Shurety from Border Archaeology, are generally sited outside settlements and away from areas of human habitation.
“In this case, the cemetery is evidently associated not with a town but with a villa site and it could thus represent a private burial ground serving a wealthy landowner and his immediate family,” he said.
The human remains were orientated north-south “with the head to the north, which suggests a pre-Christian burial practice,” said Mr Shurety.
Pottery and brooches
“One of these individuals seems to lie within a partially-preserved wooden coffin – constructed from timber planking,” he added.
He said the site provided evidence of a “landscape almost continually in use for the last 5,000 years”.
“It covers a period ranging from an intriguing prehistoric timber structure to a Roman cemetery and defensive ditches through medieval land management features to today’s agricultural activity,” he said.
The finds, which include an estimated 9,000 pieces of pottery, brooches, a coin of Constantine the Great and a pin of Roman date are due to go on display at Banwell Village Hall on 19 November.
The 7ft (2.1m) sarcophagus was being used as a trough to stand flowers in in the garden of a house in Dorset, where its significance was recognised by Guy Schwinge, a Dorchester auction valuer.
Mr Schwinge described how he spotted the coffin “peeping out from under some bushes” during a routine valuation.
“As I drew closer I realised I was looking at a Roman sarcophagus of exceptional quality,” he said.
Mr Schwinge, of Duke’s in Dorchester, discovered the family had acquired the sarcophagus almost 100 years ago at auction.
An auction catalogue from 1913 shows the coffin was imported to Britain by Queen Victoria’s surveyor of pictures, Sir John Robinson, who lived at Newton Manor in Swanage, Dorset.
“When I saw the name Duke’s on the front (of the catalogue) I couldn’t believe it,” Mr Schwinge said.
The rectangular sarcophagus is carved from fine quality white marble, said a spokesman for Duke’s, who sold the coffin for a second time.
The quality of the carving suggests it was made for a high status individual.
Experts from the British Museum have estimated the sarcophagus dates from the 2nd Century.
The owners were “utterly delighted” with the sale, Duke’s said.
An altar has been discovered at the site of a Roman fort in Cumbria, the first such find for 142 years.
The inscribed artefact was uncovered intact during an archaeological dig on the edge of Maryport.
It was described as in “beautiful condition” and because it was face down in a pit its dedication to the god “Jupiter Optimus Maximus” was intact.
The altar will join 17 others unearthed by landowner Humphrey Senhouse in 1870 which are in the town’s Roman museum.
The manager of the Senhouse Roman Museum described the altar as “rare and special”.
Dated to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD, it was inscribed on behalf of Titus Attius Tutor, commander of the First Cohort of Baetasian, which came to Maryport from what is now the Netherlands.
‘Over the moon’
It was found on Wednesday by John Murray, a volunteer on the dig, who said it “felt fantastic” to be the first person to touch it for at least 1,600 years.
The location was in a large pit which would once have underpinned a massive timber edifice, occupying the highest point of the ridge overlooking the Solway Firth and Maryport’s Roman fort.
Professor Ian Haynes, from Newcastle University, said the find confirmed the theory that at some point the altars lost their significance and were used by the Romans in building work.
Previously, it was thought that the altars were ritually buried.
He added: “Finds like this don’t come up very often, so I think people are over the moon actually.
A wooden chest discovered on board the vessel contained pills made of ground-up vegetables, herbs and plants such as celery, onions, carrots, cabbage, alfalfa and chestnuts – all ingredients referred to in classical medical texts.
The tablets, which were so well sealed that they miraculously survived being under water for more than two millennia, also contain extracts of parsley, nasturtium, radish, yarrow and hibiscus.
They were found in 136 tin-lined wooden vials on a 50ft-long trading ship which was wrecked around 130 BC off the coast of Tuscany. Scientists believe they would have been used to treat gastrointestinal complaints suffered by sailors such as dysentery and diarrhoea.
“It’s a spectacular find. They were very well sealed,” Dr Alain Touwaide, from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington DC, told The Sunday Telegraph. “The plants and vegetables were probably crushed with a mortar and pestle – we could still see the fibres in the tablets. They also contained clay, which even today is used to treat gastrointestinal problems.”
The pills are the oldest known archaeological remains of ancient pharmaceuticals. They would have been taken with a mouthful of wine or water, or may have been dissolved and smeared on the skin to treat inflammation and cuts.
Riviera Maya Travel Guide
Preservation of traditional River Road cuisine, Louisiana history & architecture, and the communities between Baton Rouge & NOLA
Wondering and Wandering
“If ever a time should come, when vain and aspiring men shall possess the highest seats in Government, our country will stand in need of its experienced patriots to prevent its ruin.” ~Samuel Adams
This WordPress.com site is Pacific War era information
Nurturing awesomeness: from the parents of celebrities, heroes, trailblazers and leaders
A Voice of Conservatism Living in Carolina Blue
Just another WordPress.com site
A great WordPress.com site
Photography, memoirs, random thoughts.
Birthplace of James Madison and Southern Plantation
Lessons on being gay, of love, life and lots of it
Sun Protection & Green Info
A journal about my travels and related experiences :)
Art and Practice
Travel, culture and lifestyle experienced on my adventures around the world. All photos taken by me. Instagram: @colorspark
life is always sweeter and yummier through a lens. bunnyandporkbelly [at] gmail [dot] com