8:15am Thursday 22nd October 2009
By Jeremy Small
ARCHAEOLOGISTS have discovered what they believe to be a Roman skeleton during excavations at the University of York.
It is the fourth set of human remains to be unearthed at Heslington East, the site of the university’s campus expansion.
Cath Neal, fieldwork officer for the Heslington East archaeological project, said: “On first inspection, it appeared to be an adult male skeleton and the nature of the pottery within the grave fill leads us to believe that it is Roman in date, but it will be fully analysed and scientifically dated in due course.”
The skeleton is being cleaned before it is sent for detailed analysis by an expert to help to build up a picture of its origins.
Including the latest find, the university’s own archaeological teams have uncovered three skeletons, in an area containing material from the Roman period.
Elsewhere on the site, a team from York Archaeological Trust came across an Iron Age skull, which is thought to contain the oldest surviving brain material in Britain.
In addition to the most recent discovery, the excavation area yielded further evidence of Roman land divisions and cobbled surfaces in the area surrounding the Roman masonry building that the university’s department of archaeology excavated at Heslington East last year.
The newly-discovered skeleton was found during a dig involving staff and students from the department of archaeology, as well as 31 volunteers including local residents and students from Archbishop Holgate’s School, in York.
David Burdsey, one of the volunteer archaeologists, said: “I was thrilled to have had a role in the finding and excavation of the skeleton at Heslington.
“As an enthusiastic amateur archaeologist, to be entrusted with such an important role is a source of great pride. The team at Heslington were most welcoming and supportive and I look forward to working with them to make further discoveries on the site in the future.”
The find was sampled by Professor Don Brothwell, of the department of archaeology, and Professor Brendan Keeley, of the department of chemistry, as part of a European Research Council-funded project.
In November, analysis of the material generated by the dig will be undertaken at The King’s Manor, York, by the professional and amateur archaeologists who took part in the excavation.
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