Colchester dig uncovers Roman soldier skeletons

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The bones of two Roman soldiers have been discovered underneath modern army barracks in Colchester. 

The teeth of the tribal warriors will be tested to find out how old they are [Source: BBC News]

The men may have been Saxons hired by Rome in the 4th or 5th Century AD, said Colchester Archaeological Trust. 

Their bodies were buried with shields and spears and one had a dagger in a belt around his waist. 

The skeletons were found beneath Hyderbad Barracks, once home to 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment, now being redeveloped as housing. 

“Many men from the continent were hired by the Romans and posted at frontier towns and cities like Colchester to act as limitanei – lightly armed soldiers who were given land in return,” said Trust director Philip Crummy. 

“Some then turned on their masters and paved the way for the conquest of much of eastern Britain by their own kind from across the North Sea.” 

Colchester Archaeological Trust has been working at the Hyderbad site since 2002, on behalf of developer Taylor Wimpey, and said there is not much left to explore. 

The highlight of its excavation was the 2005 discovery of a Roman chariot circus in the gardens of the sergeants’ mess. 

It will carry out tests later this year to discover exactly when the newly-discovered warriors lived. 

Source: BBC News Website [April 18, 2011]

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