Father-son team find Roman Briton remains

Nov 23, 2007

The skeleton of an ancient Roman Briton apparently with some social standing was found by two men who previously unearthed a $2 million Viking treasure.

Using metal detectors, the father-son duo, David and Andrew Whelan, discovered the 1,800-year-old skeleton buried in a lead-lined coffin near the Roman town of Aldborough, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

After uncovering a part of the coffin, the Whelans called professional archaeologists to take over the dig.

They uncovered a Romano-British skeleton buried without decorations or jewelry between the second and fourth centuries, the newspaper said. The Roman empire lasted until the fifth century.

Patrick Ottaway, an expert in Roman Yorkshire, said the intact skeleton was probably a wealthy landowner, "a member of the social elite who owned very good farmland in that area, someone whose wealth derived from land."

The person probably British rather than a Roman, and may have had a role in the area's political hierarchy, Ottaway said.

In January, the Whelans uncovered the "Harrogate Horde," a collection of Viking coins. Andrew Whelan said he and his father "don't go out expecting to find big things, but it seems that this year big things keep finding us."

Copyright 2007 by United Press International

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