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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 19:56 GMT 20:56 UK
Roman coffin at prince's village
The archaeologists were working in Poundbury
Archaeologists have unearthed a Roman coffin and skeletons at the Prince of Wales's model village, a charity said.

The Wessex Archaeology team discovered the coffin, thought to be made of Portland Stone and which has now been removed, in Poundbury, Dorset.

It was found on a Christian cemetery for Roman Dorchester, along with Neolithic tools and Bronze Age pottery.

The archaeologists were working on Duchy of Cornwall land near Poundbury Hillfort, ahead of further development.

Iron hobnails... show a pair of shoes had been put into the grave to help the dead person make their final journey
Damian de Rosa from Wessex Archaeology

Damian de Rosa, project manager for Wessex Archaeology, said: "We found iron hobnails in the coffin.

"These show that a pair of shoes had been put into the grave to help the dead person make their final journey."

The "poorly preserved" skeleton will be examined at Wessex Archaeology's laboratory in Salisbury, Wiltshire, to "determine the age and sex of the dead person".

Some rubbish pits unearthed at the site are thought to date back to Neolithic times, more than 4,000 years ago.

Land investigation

The remains of ditches, drainage systems and field layouts also give a glimpse of Bronze Age farming in the area 3,500 years ago.

Bronze Age pottery, including cooking pots, were also uncovered as well as the Neolithic flint tools.

The archaeological survey was part of investigation of the land before it is developed.

Research shows most burials were in wooden coffins - some in lead - with the wealthiest residents making their coffins from stone.

The heavy stone coffin would usually be delivered by the mason to the grave and the body lowered in on the site.

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15 Feb 07 |  Cornwall
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08 Jun 06 |  Dorset
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16 Dec 05 |  Dorset

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