“Exquisite” 2,000-year-old Roman figure found during railway excavations

Arare and an “exquisite” wooden statue from early Roman times were unearthed during work on the future HS2 high-speed rail line in England.

The figure, believed to be about 2,000 years old, was found in July from a flooded Roman ditch in a field in the village of Twyford, Buckinghamshire, in southern England. It was initially believed to be a piece of degraded wood.


As excavation continued at an industrial site called Three Bridge Mill, experts found it to be a human figure 67 centimeters (26.4 inches) tall and 18 centimeters (7.1 inches) wide.


Made from a single piece of wood, the statue is considered to date back to early Roman times because of its carved fashion and tunic-like clothing. HS2 said the figure was appropriate for its age, but the toe and arm below the elbow were degenerated.

Details of the figure which stay seen embrace its coiffure or hat, well-defined legs and calf muscle groups and a barely rotated head, whereas the tunic it’s carrying seems to be gathered on the waist and goes right down to above the knee.

Archaeologists taking part in the HS2 challenge in Buckinghamshire have found a human or Roman-like wood carving that is rare in the area.


“It’s an exceptionally rare find,” Helen Wass, HS2’s head of heritage, advised CNN, including specialists solely known of two different Romano-British examples of wood figures within the UK.

Wass said the figure – made from oak – is believed to date back to the first century AD, as the pottery found in the ditch was from about that time.


“We know that the object was quite old before it went in the ground,” Wass added. “There were signs of wear, so it’s like a cherished, curated item. And so maybe somebody brought it with them. Or maybe they carved it when they were here. We just don’t know yet. That’s what’s really exciting.”

Archaeologists attribute the standard of preservation to a lack of oxygen in the clay that filled the ditch, which helped prevent the wood from rotting – and it may have been purposely located there.

“This is a truly remarkable find which brings us face to face with our past,” Jim Williams, senior science adviser for Historic England, stated within the press launch. “The quality of the carving is exquisite and the figure is all the more exciting because organic objects from this period rarely survive.”


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