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'Roman child's coffin' found in Leicestershire

A child's coffin believed to date back to the 3rd Century AD has been found beneath a Leicestershire field by metal detectorists.

'Roman child's coffin' found in Leicestershire
A 1,700-year-old lead coffin, thought to contain the remains of a Roman child, has been found by a metal detecting club in a field in Leicestershire. The exact location of the burial is being kept a secret to protect the rare coffin from grave robbers [Credit: Raymonds Press]
The Digging Up The Past club found the lead coffin and Roman coins at a farm in the west of the county.

Club spokesman David Hutchings said: "I knew it was something a bit special as soon as I saw it."

Archaeologists have now been appointed by the group to help remove the coffin and analyse the find.

Mr Hutchings said he and a group of volunteers had been keeping a nightly vigil at the site because they were "scared of looters coming in and taking the grave away".

The exact location of the find has not been revealed.

'Unique find'

"The excitement on the site was fantastic. We didn't realise what it was at first," he added. "The council archaeologists have told us it is a unique find - a find of a lifetime really. It is sitting in the middle of a field at the moment. It is a bit vulnerable. So we will stay throughout the night keeping watch on it until it is removed."

'Roman child's coffin' found in Leicestershire
The lead coffin is thought to hold the remains of the child of a very wealthy individual as it is estimated the casket would have cost the equivalent of about £200,000 in the third century AD [Credit: Raymonds Press]
The club has now gathered funding and appointed experts Archaeology Warwickshire to help extract and analyse the find.

Mr Hutchings said if permission was granted the excavation could take place by the end of the week.

Leicestershire County Council's finds liaison officer, Wendy Scott, said they had to treat the find with respect and dignity.

She said: "We have to remember this is human remains - it is a child's body - and the best procedure is to leave it alone and rest in the position it is in or rebury it. It is the remains of a Roman occupant of Leicestershire so of course we are interested in it. It is up to the landowner to decide to remove it."

Source: BBC News Website [October 24, 2013]

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