Iron Age Britons Adopted Roman Burial Practices

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Most of the graves were lined with stone curbs and closed with slabs. (Courtesy of Wessex Archaeology)

High-Status Roman Burials Found in Britain

By Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com

Archaeologists excavating a site in southwest England ahead of construction of a new school have unearthed an unusual set of 50 Roman era burials.

Per a statement from archaeology firm South West Heritage Trust, the ancient cemetery dates to the Roman occupation of Britain, which took place between 43 and 410 A.D. The graves show the Britons’ progressive adoption of Roman burial practices. Earlier tombs feature bodies laid flat in a small space, while later graves include offerings like coins and a ceramic pot, reports Steven Morris for the Guardian.

The burials’ construction is also notable. Most were lined with stone walls and closed with the same type of flat rock slabs used to make roofs at the time. But one grave has slabs of rock leaned against each other to create a tent-like structure. A similar burial style was previously found 25 miles northwest, according to the Guardian, and both resemble Roman graves seen in Spain and Italy.

“Most graves in Roman Britain are pretty much a rectangular cut with someone laid on their back,” South West Heritage Trust archaeologist Steve Membery tells Morris. “They’ve actually built these graves. Read More:

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