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Last Updated: Friday, 23 November 2007, 19:38 GMT
Roman skeleton find in farm field
Roman skeleton
The find dates back 2,000 years [picture by Tony Bartholomew]
A Roman skeleton dating back 2,000 years has been unearthed after it was spotted by a member of the public in a farmer's field in North Yorkshire.

Archaeologists have dug up a 6ft lead coffin containing the well-preserved remains of a Romano-British adult.

Experts described the find, near to Aldborough, as "rare and exciting".

Archaeologists will now use the skeleton to build up a picture of what life was like for the Romans 2,000 years ago.

Historical experts said that Aldborough was an important Roman settlement for the Brigantes - the largest tribe in Roman Britain.

Ian Panter, principal conservator with the York Archaeological Trust, said the coffin was found inside a stone chamber and the remains were of someone who lived between the second and fourth centuries.

Expensive coffin

He said: "We've not yet been able to sex or age the remains, but the skeleton is in pretty reasonable condition."

Mr Panter said they would be examining the teeth to determine information about the person's childhood diet and whether he or she was born locally.

But experts speculated that the coffin signified the person was of a "high status".

Keith Emerick, English Heritage's Inspector of Ancient Monuments, said: "The fact the burial involved an expensive lead coffin signifies the person was perhaps of high status.

"Funeral practices for such people varied at different times between cremation and internment."

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