Roman sculptures found in abandoned church on high-speed railway


Archaeologists digging along the route of the HS2 high-speed line have discovered an “astonishing” collection of Roman sculptures.

The find was made in an abandoned medieval church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire.

Two full busts of what appears to be a man and a woman were found, along with a sculpture of a child’s head.

A hexagonal Roman glass jug was also discovered with large pieces still intact, although they have been in the ground for over 1,000 years.

A ship on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the only known comparable item.

“They are extremely important because they are really rare finds in the UK,” said Dr Rachel Wood, chief archaeologist for contractor HS2 Fusion JV.

“Finding a stone head or a pair of shoulders would be really amazing, but we have two full heads and shoulders as well as a third head.

“They are even more important to us archaeologically because they actually helped change our understanding of the site here before the medieval church was built.”

The finds from the former St Mary’s Church were sent to a laboratory for specialist cleaning and analysis, including dating.

“They are so important and so remarkable that we certainly hope they will end up being exposed to the local community,” said Dr Wood.

Experts believe the site was used as a Roman mausoleum before the Norman church was built in 1080.

Around 3,000 bodies have been removed from the church and will be reburied at a new site.

Updated: October 28, 2021, 11:17 PM

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