An early Roman figure carved from wood was unearthed as part of archaeological research accompanying the construction of a new rail line between London and Birmingham, England. According to a press release from HS2, as the high-speed railway is known, the figure was dug up in July from a ditch whose water-logged and thus oxygen-deprived clay preserved the wood and kept it from rotting. Shards of pottery dating back to sometime between the years 43 C.E. and 70 C.E. were found in the same ditch. The figure stands a little more than two feet tall and measures seven inches in width.
In a statement, Iain Williamson, an archaeologist for the HS2 contractor Fusion JV, said, “The preservation of details carved into the wood such as the hair and tunic really start to bring the individual depicted to life. Not only is the survival of a wooden figure like this extremely rare for the Roman period in Britain, but it also raises new questions about this site, who does the wooden figure represent, what was it used for and why was it significant to the people living in this part of Buckinghamshire during the 1st century AD?”
Helen Wass, the head of heritage at HS2 Ltd., added, “Our unprecedented archaeology programme on Phase One of the HS2 project between London and Birmingham has provided us with a great wealth of new information about our past. In Buckinghamshire, our careful work has enabled us to build a much greater understanding of how the landscape was used by our ancestors, especially during the Roman period, and is brought to life further through incredible artefacts like this figure.”
It is the second major find announced this month by HS2. Earlier in January, the railroad network said that the remains of an ancient Roman town had been discovered.