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Friday, 30 November, 2001, 14:38 GMT
Builders discover Roman burial site
Roman burial urn
Builders discovered the burial urn
Archaeologists are celebrating the discovery in west Wales of a Roman burial ground dating from the First Century AD.

Builders using a digger to lay the foundations for a council depot in Carmarthenshire, unearthed an urn containing human bones and ash and two oil lamps.

The bones discovered at Johnstown are believed to have belonged to an adult and child, leaving experts to believe it was a family burial site.
maker's name, Roman lamp
The makers name on the lamps is still legible

The chance discovery is being hailed as an rare insight into family life in Roman Britain.

Gavin Evans, curator of Carmarthen Museum, and archaeologist John Pardoe were called in to examine the area.

"This is a rare and exciting find," he said.

"It's only the second time a Roman burial site has been discovered in recent times in Carmarthenshire."

Mr Evans found that the oil lamps still have their maker's name of Fortis, a lamp manufacturer from northern Italy.

This is a personal insight which up until recently has been lacking

Gavin Evans, archaeologist

Fortis is known to have been making lamps in 80AD and their products were still being used up to the end of the Second Century.

Other artefacts discovered at Johnstown included a glass vessel and carved bone handles.

Workmen preparing the site for Carmarthenshire County Council stumbled across the remains when the digger arm struck the edge of the burial urn, scattering ashes across the site.

All of the objects have been sent to Lampeter University for analysis and will eventually be put on display at the Carmarthen Museum in Abergwili.

The remaining building work at the highway maintenance depot will be supervised by an archaeologist.
The remains were found during construction work
The remains were found during construction work

Mr Evans said the discovery would offer archaeologists more clues into family life in Roman times.

"We're talking about a family who didn't live in the town, but perhaps lived in farmhouses on the outskirts," he said.

"This is a personal insight which up until recently has been lacking."

It was extremely lucky that the workmen had not missed the items and "absolutely brilliant" that they had recognised their significance and contacted the museum, he added.

Gavin Evans, archaeologist
"We believe this was a family burial site, possibly on a farm"
See also:

19 Apr 01 | Wales
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