Lifting the Lid on Roman Remains; Archaelogists Open Up Lead-Lined Coffin Dating Back Up to 1,900 Years

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Byline: Simon Gilbert News reporter

A TEAM of Warwickshire archaeologists are hoping reveal the secrets on a cof-fin dating back to Roman England after it was carefully opened yesterday. Experts from Archaeology Warwickshire opened the coffin under controlled conditions at their Warwick base yesterday.

The lead-lined coffin was discovered in Witherley, near Atherstone, by metal detecting enthusiast Chris Wright about a month ago.

Since it was found it has been meticulously cleaned and examined by experts who will now begin the painstaking process of analysing the contents, which could take several months.

Special forensic tests could give scientists and historians a fascinating insight into the life and death of a child from Roman Britain.

Stuart Palmer, from Archaeology Warwickshire, said it was unlikely any human remains would still exist inside the coffin.

"Its significance to us is that it can reveal so much," he said.

"Because of the sealed environment within the sealed lead coffin there is trapped evidence that would otherwise have been removed. It's like a time capsule.

"We may find some bone fragments, but there's no guarantee they will be recognisable. Even without those chemical testing can tell us a lot. We may even be able to establish a cause of death if there is some chemical signature for it. …