Secrets of St Albans' Roman burial urns unlocked

CT scanners are being used to help unlock the secrets of five Roman burial urns that were discovered at a housing development in Hertfordshire. 

Conservators have excavated the urns on a microscopic scale and detailed their contents [Credit: BBC]
Conservators at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre were called in by archaeologists excavating at King Harry Lane in St Albans. 

Work is being done to discover whether the remains inside the cremation urns belong to adults or children. 

The urns were found at the entrance to a late Iron Age defended settlement. 

Micro-excavation 

Kelly Abbott, contract conservator with the Wiltshire Council Conservation Service, said: "Unlocking the mystery of these urns could provide a fascinating glimpse of life during the time of the Roman Conquest. 

"Two of the urns contained bones which could be human. An osteoarchaeologist will now examine the bones and help provide even more detail." 

Using the CT images to guide them, the conservators have detailed the contents of the urns and made the finds stable. 

Once the cremations have been removed from the urns, the bones will be cleaned and dried under laboratory conditions. 

The information gathered from this micro-excavation will then be sent to the archaeologists who will be able to interpret the evidence alongside the archaeology already discovered. 

Archaeologists have determined that the site at King Harry Lane, was of significant importance. 

St Albans, known as Verulamium, was a key site in the Roman period and as such, these cremation urns, along with the other archaeology on the site, are seen to be nationally important.  

Source: BBC News Website [March 14, 2012]

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