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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 May 2007, 16:06 GMT 17:06 UK
London Roman's remains go on show

The remains of what experts believe was one of the last Romans to have lived in London form the centre-piece of an exhibition which opens this week.

Visitors to the Museum of London will be able to see the headless skeleton of a man, thought to be in his late 30s or early 40s, laid in a limestone coffin.

It was found last year when a 36m building project was undertaken at St Martin-in-the-Fields, central London.

Curators said the man's death dated back to about AD410.

Wealthy and respected

Describing the find as "hugely significant" experts said the man had died around the time of the collapse of Roman Londinium in the City and the decision by the Romans to abandon Britain.

Francis Grew, senior curator at the museum, said the man would have been wealthy and well-respected and may even have been a "commuter" into the Roman city of Londinium.

"The man in the coffin may well have been living in a substantial Roman villa estate somewhere around Trafalgar Square - a big country house maybe with a little village, even, associated with it," he said.

The sarcophagus, along with a Roman tile kiln, Saxon grave goods and pottery unearthed at the site, sheds light on a "hidden" two hundred year period in the history of the capital, the museum said.

A clay pot dating from about AD500 suggests that the Saxon settlement of Lundenvic, built on the site of what is now Covent Garden, was established at least 100 years earlier than previously believed.

Jewellery, glass and metal vessels found in graves of people buried on the site after AD600, who may have been Christians, are also on show.

The display at the museum in the City opens on Thursday and runs until 8 August.

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