THE 2,000-year-old remains of a Roman mercenary have been found near a newly built road in the Welsh countryside.
The mysterious mercenary was buried with his sword and the skeleton of another Roman-era man, his decapitated head lying at his feet.
They were discovered along with Iron Age farming tools, ancient burial sites and the remains of roundhouses.
In all, archaeologists discovered 456 skeletons at the site at Five Mile Lane near Barry, South Wales.
Five of the skeletons are thought to date from Roman times, according to Rubicon Heritage, which led the expedition.
Archaeologists hailed the “significant and surprising” finds uncovered by workers, dating back some 2,000 years.
Three sites have been fully excavated along the roadside of Five Mile Lane, which has a history of human activity dating back to the Stone Age.
Archaeologist Mark Collard described the mercenary’s funeral as “quite odd”.
He said live science: “It is located in the middle of a field near the Roman villa overlooking the valley and the sea.
“It’s a great place to be buried.”
The man was in his early 20s and 5 feet 9 inches tall. It’s unclear how he died, but he may have been the victim of an otitis media that spread to his skull.
The man was buried face down in a boarded-up wooden coffin. Buried with him were spiked boots, a long iron sword, and a silver crossbow brooch.
Five Mile Lane was first excavated in the 1960s when inventors unearthed Iron Age roundhouses, a Roman villa.
An archeological survey carried out at the site prior to the road works revealed that it had much more to offer bone seekers.
The area was likely well-exploited for thousands of years because it’s close to the sea and offers “rich farmland,” the team said.
During the late Roman period, Roman control in the United Kingdom collapsed and the Empire resorted to hiring mercenaries from Europe to defend its territory from invaders and British resistance.
According to Collard, the Roman skeleton found at the site may have been a mercenary or invader living at the villa previously found at Five Mile Lane.
A genetic analysis of his remains could shed light on where he came from, Collard added.
Council officials brought in Ireland-based archeology company Rubicon Heritage to manage the excavations.
They were supported by the National Museum of Wales, Cardiff University, Cadw and the Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust.
Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Emma Reed said: “It is great to learn that the archaeological study at Five Mile Lane has uncovered such a detailed history of the area.
“The program has uncovered fascinating and sometimes surprising remains that help us understand the design of the agricultural landscape we see today.”
Rubicon Heritage Services’ Mark Collard said the company will create an e-book of his work at the site.
He said: “It has been a privilege for our team to have undertaken a project that has added so many new discoveries about the archeology and history of the Vale of Glamorgan.
“We are delighted to now be able to share the results with the communities of the region in such an accessible format.”
After analysis and documentation, the artifacts will be given to the National Museum of Wales.
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https://www.thesun.ie/tech/8690515/discovery-archaeologists-baffled-human-remains-wales/ Stunning discovery leaves archaeologists baffled as human remains are found in Wales