Experts amazed after ‘incredibly rare’ Roman artifact found in Lincolnshire field

Experts amazed after ‘incredibly rare’ Roman artifact found in Lincolnshire field

Over recent years, metal detectorists have made a wonderful collection of historical discoveries. In the UK a detector has discovered in a plowed field a very rare and beautiful Roman Brooch. It is only the second of its kind to have even been found in the country.

The search was carried out on a field in Lincolnshire, East England, near the village of Leasingham.

Jason Price, 48, is a former member of the British military. He was participating in an event called ‘Detecting for Veterans’ according to the Sleaford Standard. This was a charity event, to raise funds for veterans and took place in the summer of 2019.

On the last day of the event, Mr. Price found the Roman brooch. “It was the last field of the weekend and it was heavily plowed – so I didn’t hold out much hope of finding anything”. Suddenly his detector starting buzzing and the excitement of a potential find mounted.

Mr. Price found the Roman brooch on the last day of the event. The Daily Mail quotes him as saying that, “It was the last field of the weekend and it was heavily plowed – so I didn’t hold out much hope of finding anything”. Suddenly his detector starting buzzing and the excitement of a potential find mounted.

The Roman brooch was discovered by a metal detectorist in a plowed field.

He started to dig carefully and some 8 inches (20 centimeters) in the earth he found something he thought was only a piece of junk. Mr. Price told the Sleaford Standard that “At first I thought it was a piece of litter, but as I cleaned it off, my jaw dropped open. There it was – a horse brooch. I was shaking”.

The Roman brooch is 2 inches (5 centimeters) long and in near perfect condition.

The veteran knew he had found something remarkable. In the past, he has unearthed several items including some coins. As required by law, Mr. Price notified the relevant authorities about his find.

The Daily Mail quotes Lisa Brundle, who oversees such finds for the local Lincolnshire County Council, as saying “This brooch is an exciting and rare discovery”. There is only one other known to have been found in Britain and it is currently held at the world-famous British Museum.

A preliminary analysis of the brooch indicated that it was made of a copper alloy and probably dated to 200-400 AD when Britain was a province of the Roman Empire. The Roman brooch is in remarkably good condition and it still has its original pin attached.

It is approximately 2 inches (5 centimeters) long and weighs about 0.80 of an ounce (23 grams). It depicts the horse in great detail and even shows it with a saddle. Originally the horse would have had a gold finish and many of its details would have been enameled with bright colors.

Various views of the Roman brooch.

The brooch is considered to be somewhat more detailed than the one found in the British Museum. It is also decorated somewhat differently. Ms. Bundle told The Times that the Roman brooch “is in a league of its own”. The artifact has been called the ‘Leasingham Horse’ after the location where it was found.

Such a brooch was probably worn by a Romano-Britain of some social standing as it would have been quite valuable. This item would have been most likely pinned to a robe. Ms. Bundle told The Daily Mail that “It would have been a spectacular sight on someone’s robe”.

This item would have been something of a status symbol. The gender of those who would have worn the item is not known, but the horse design may mean that it was worn by a male.

How the item came to be buried in the field is something of a mystery. It may have been lost or deliberately buried during one of the many raids by barbarians on Roman Britain. Mr. Price is not going to cash in on his amazing discovery.

According to The Daily Mail, “the brooch has been sent out on a permanent loan by Mr. Price to the Collection Museum in Lincolnshire”. The item will undoubtedly become a very popular attraction with local people and visitors alike.

Ruins of a 3000-year-old Armenian castle found in Lake Van – Turkey

Ruins of a 3000-year-old Armenian castle found in Lake Van – Turkey

The 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortification have been discovered at the bottom of Turkey’s largest lake. The underwater excavations were led by Van Yüzüncü Yıl University and the governorship of Turkey’s eastern Bitlis Province.

The castle is said to belong to the Iron Age Armenian civilization also known as the Kingdom of Van, Urartu, Ararat and Armenia. The lake itself is believed to have been formed by a crater caused by a volcanic eruption of Mount Nemrut near the province of Van. The current water level of the reservoir is about 150 meters higher than it was during the Iron Age.

Divers exploring Lake Van discovered the incredibly well-preserved wall of a castle, thought to have been built by the Urartu civilization. Experts had been studying the body of water for a decade before it revealed the fortress lost deep below its surface.

The 3,000-year-old remains of an ancient fortification have been discovered at the bottom of Turkey’s largest lake. Divers exploring Lake Van discovered the incredibly well-preserved wall of a castle, thought to have been built by the Urartu civilization
Underwater Fairy Chimneys in Van lake.

The discovery was made by a team of researchers, including Tahsin Ceylan, an underwater photographer and videographer, diver Cumali Birol, and Mustafa Akkuş, an academic from Van Yüzüncü Yıl University. 

Legends among the area’s population spoke of ancient ruins hidden in the water, and the Van team decided to investigate. Over the course of ten years, they captured images of pearl mullets, microbialites, corals and even a sunken Russian ship, but their prize remained elusive.

Their search has now paid off, uncovering castle stonework that has been protected from the ravages of time by the lake’s highly alkaline waters. It is thought the stone structure was built by the Urartians, as the rocks used were favoured by civilization. 

The castle, as well as a number of villages and settlements in the area, were built at a time when water levels were much lower than they are today.

Speaking to Hurriyet Daily News, Mr. Ceylan said: ‘Many civilizations and people had settled around Lake Van.

‘They named the lake the “upper sea” and believed it hid many mysterious things.

‘With this belief in mind, we are working to reveal the lake’s secrets.

‘It is a miracle to find this castle underwater.’

The Kingdom of Urartu was an ancient country in the mountainous region southeast of the Black Sea and southwest of the Caspian Sea.  Today the region is divided among Armenia, eastern Turkey, and northwestern Iran.

Mentioned in Assyrian sources from the early 13th century BC, Urartu enjoyed considerable political power in the Middle East in the 9th and 8th centuries BC.

The Urartians were succeeded in the area in the 6th century BC by the Armenians. Urartu is an Assyrian name and the people called Urartians called their country Biainili. Their capital Tushpa was located at what is now known as Lake Van.

Most remains of Urartian settlements are found between four lakes: Çildir and Van in Turkey, Urmia in Iran, and Sevan in Armenia, with a sparser extension westward to the Euphrates River.

Map of historic Armenian with Lake Van at its center.

Secret Passage Discovered in London’s House of Commons

Secret doorway in Parliament leads to a historical treasure trove

Renovation workers have uncovered a forgotten passageway in the UK’s Houses of Parliament. Built over 1,000 years ago, the historic seat of government in central London has seen kings and queens, prime ministers and foreign dignitaries come and go time and again over the centuries.

While it might seem as though all of the building’s secrets would have been found by now, this week there was a surprise in store when renovation workers uncovered a secret door leading to a hidden passageway that dates back over 360 years.

Believed to have been originally built for the coronation of Charles II in 1660, the passageway would have enabled guests to attend a celebratory banquet in the neighboring Westminster Hall. It went on to be used by countless MPs before eventually being blocked up and concealed. It was even rediscovered briefly in the 1950s before being sealed up again.

“To say we were surprised is an understatement – we really thought it had been walled-up forever after the war,” said Mark Collins, Parliament’s Estates Historian.

Liz Hallam Smith, the historical consultant to Parliament’s architecture and heritage team, said: “I was awestruck because it shows that the Palace of Westminster still has so many secrets to give up. “It is the way that the Speaker’s procession would have come, on its way to the House of Commons, as well as many MPs over the centuries, so it’s a hugely historic space.”

The current occupant of the Speaker’s chair, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, said: “To think that this walkway has been used by so many important people over the centuries is incredible. I am so proud of our staff for making this discovery.”

A brass plaque, erected in Westminster Hall in 1895, marks the spot where the doorway once was but, says Dr. Hallam Smith, “almost nothing was known about it”. It lay behind thick masonry, on the hall side, and wooden panelling, running the full length of a Tudor cloister, on the other side.

Up until three years ago, the cloister had been used as offices by the Labour Party, and before that, a cloakroom for MPs. It was Dr. Hallam Smith who discovered evidence of a small, secret access door that had been set into the cloister’s panelling, during Parliament’s last major renovation in 1950.

The west Cloister where the door to the chamber was discovered

“We were trawling through 10,000 uncatalogued documents relating to the palace at the Historic England Archives in Swindon when we found plans for the doorway in the cloister behind Westminster Hall.

“As we looked at the panelling closely, we realized there was a tiny brass key-hole that no-one had really noticed before, believing it might just be an electricity cupboard.” The team turned to Parliament’s locksmith for help and, with some difficulty, he was able to open the wood panel door, to reveal a tiny, stone-floored chamber, with a bricked-up doorway on the far wall.

They discovered the original hinges for two wooden doors 3.5m high, that would have opened into Westminster Hall. They also found graffiti dating back to the rebuilding of Parliament, in a neo-Gothic style, following the fire in 1834 which destroyed much of the medieval palace.

The scrawled pencil marks, left by men who helped block the passageway on both sides in 1851, read: “This room was enclosed by Tom Porter who was very fond of Ould Ale.” It then names the witnesses of “the articles of the wall” – evidently architect Sir Charles Barry’s masons who had joined bricklayer’s labourer Thomas Porter in a toast to mark the room’s enclosure. The men can be traced in the 1851 census returns as Richard Condon, James Williams, Henry Terry, Thomas Parker, and Peter Dewal.

Pencil graffiti dating back to the 1850s is still visible

Finally, the graffiti notes: “These masons were employed refacing these groines…[ie repairing the cloister] August 11th, 1851 Real Democrats.”

This reference to “real democrats” suggests the group were part of the Chartist movement, which campaigned for every man aged 21 to have a vote, and for would-be MPs to be allowed to stand even if they did not own property.

“Charles Barry’s masons were quite subversive,” said Dr. Hallam Smith.

“They had been involved in quite a few scraps as the Palace was being built. I think these ones were being a little bit bolshie but also highly celebratory because they had just finished the first major restoration of these beautiful Tudor cloisters.”

Part of the bricked-up doorway in the hidden chamber

The team are keen to trace the descendants of Tom Porter and his colleagues and have already discovered that the workers lived in lodgings near Parliament. There was another surprise for the team when they entered the passageway – they were able to light the room.

A light switch – probably installed in the 1950s – illuminated a large Osram bulb marked ‘HM Government Property’. The team is eager to learn more about the history of this hardy bulb. Dr. Collins said further investigations made him certain the doorway dated back at least 360 years.

The plaque in Westminster Hall may not be entirely accurate, the team believes

Dendrochronology testing revealed that the ceiling timbers above the little room dated from trees felled in 1659 – which tied in with surviving accounts that stated the doorway was made in 1660-61 for the coronation banquet of Charles II.

This is in contrast to the words on the brass plaque in Westminster Hall, which state the passageway was used in 1642 by Charles I when he attempted to arrest five MPs, which the researchers believe is not accurate. Dr. Collins said the plans that led to their discovery will now be digitized as part of the Parliament’s Restoration and Renewal program.

“The mystery of the secret doorway is one we have enjoyed discovering – but the palace no doubt still has many more secrets to give up,” he added.

“We hope to share the story with visitors to the palace when the building is finally restored to its former glory, so it can be passed on down the generations and is never forgotten again.”

Section of Roman Road Uncovered in Northern England

Secret Roman road and treasure discovered on York construction site

A previously unknown Roman road has been found by the archaeologist under the Guildhall as work continues to restore and redevelop the buildings. 

The York Archaeological Trust (YAT) also discovered Currency and ‘an abundance of Roman pottery’ have also been found at the riverside site.

York Archéological Trust members have been working on behalf of the City of York Council for the past six months to monitor and record any archaeological deposits or features that are exposed through the ongoing redevelopment and restoration work at the site.

Some significant discoveries have already been made such an area of cobbled surface also dating back to the Roman period.

Buried over 1.5m below modern street level, the surface contained an abundance of Roman pottery and a silver coin. Furthermore, the excavation of a small trench revealed that three distinct surfaces had been laid, suggesting that it remained in use for a considerable period.

Cllr Nigel Ayre said: “ We’re delighted to see that as we restore and redevelop this collection of buildings, to secure its future in our 21st-century city, that we have the opportunity to unpack more of its history thanks to the expertise of York Archaeological Trust.

“As the city evolves and pioneers to address modern challenges and seize new opportunities, it is vital that we protect its unique heritage and share the stories we uncover along the way.”

Fieldwork is monitoring the Guildhall site in York and recently discovered a Roman-age road surface and silver coin. The site is currently undergoing redevelopment and restoration by @VCUK_Building on behalf of @CityofYork

The Guildhall restoration began in September 2019, initiating vital restoration and redevelopment of the Grade I, II* and II listed buildings, to offer office space, community use, and a riverside restaurant.

The project received £2.347 million from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership, delivered in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, through the Leeds City Region Growth Deal – a £1 billion package of government investment to accelerate growth and create jobs across Leeds City Region.

The site is due to reopen to the public in Spring 2021.

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