Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Scots unearth ancient 'treasures'

The Roman Tombstone (Pic: National Museums of Scotland)
A Roman tombstone was among the significant finds

The first Roman tombstone found in Scotland for more than 170 years is among the rare artefacts unearthed by treasure hunters this year.

It forms part of Scotland's annual Treasure Trove, items found by archaeologists or enthusiasts which have been handed to the Crown Office.

Other pieces include a 5,000-year-old axe head, a Bronze Age sword and mysterious carved stone balls.

The Crown Office has a duty to receive all unclaimed lost and abandoned items.

Ian Ralston, a professor at Edinburgh University who sits on the Treasure Trove panel, said some significant archaeological finds had been unearthed in Scotland this year.

He said: "The most outstanding would have to be the Roman tombstone. The inscription suggests it was someone who had a military career, the equivalent of being in the elite guards."

Roman bodyguard

The red sandstone artefact was for a man called Crescens, a bodyguard for the governor who ran the province of Britain for the Roman Emperor.

It was found by amateur enthusiast Larney Cavanagh at the edge of a field near Inveresk.

Professor Ralston said items received by the Treasure Trove usually arrived via three routes: during standard archaeological excavations and field work; by chance by members of the public; and by people using metal detectors.

The Treasure Trove panel decides where each item should be placed and how much reward money should be received by the 'treasure hunters'.

The items found between April 2007 and March 2008 were included in The Queen's and Lord Treasurer's Remembrancer's annual report.

The 5,000-year-old farmers axe head was unearthed at Dunragit, Stranraer, but made from stone found in the Lake District.

The Bronze Age sword was found in Lockerbie and the mysterious carved balls were discovered at Pitmilly and Newburgh in Fife.

One of the most important archaeological finds ever brought before the Treasure Trove panel was the Cramond Lioness, which was found in the mud of the River Almond 10 years ago.

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SEE ALSO
'Exceptional' Roman coins hoard
30 Oct 08 |  South East Wales
Roman tombstone found at Inveresk
29 Oct 07 |  Edinburgh, East and Fife

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