Roman swords are among a treasure trove of stunning artifacts found at the site of an ancient cavalry barracks in the U.K.
Recent excavations at the Roman fort of Vindolanda just south of Hadrian’s Wall in Northern England have resulted in a slew of stunning finds. These included a complete sword with a bent tip, found in the corner of a former living room at the site, which archaeologists say is the equivalent of a modern soldier leaving behind a malfunctioning rifle. Another sword and two small wooden toy swords were also found in adjacent rooms.
Other weapons, including cavalry lances, arrowheads and bolts from balistas, or catapults, were also found on the abandoned barrack room floors, along with copper-alloy fitments for saddles, straps and harnesses. Also preserved in a layer of oxygen-free soil at the site were Roman ink writing tablets on wood, bath clogs, leather shoes, stylus pens, knives, combs, hairpins and brooches.
“As a collection of artefacts, it doesn’t really get better than what we have discovered,” Dr. Andrew Birley, CEO of the Vindolanda Trust and director of excavations at the site, told Fox News, via email. “The range of material along with handwritten documents will hopefully give us names, personal thoughts and emotions and enable us to build a very vivid picture of life on the edge of empire before Hadrian’s Wall was built.”
The artifacts date to around 120 A.D. when the fort was occupied by the 1st Cohort of Tungrians, who hailed from modern-day Belgium, according to experts. The Tungrians were also joined by a detachment of Vardulli cavalrymen from Northern Spain. “It is likely that the base held more than 1000 soldiers and probably many thousands more dependants including slaves and freedmen, representing one of the most multicultural and dynamic communities on the Frontier of the Roman Empire at the time,” explained the Vindolanda Trust, in a press release.
Hadrian’s Wall was constructed in 122 A.D.
Why the troops left so many valuable items behind remains a mystery, although Birley has a theory as to what happened. “You can imagine the circumstances where you could conceive leaving one sword behind rare as it is … but two?” he said, in the press release. “One theory is that the garrison was forced to leave in a hurry, and in their haste they left not only the swords but also a great number of other perfectly serviceable items which would have had great value in their time.”
The artifacts are just the latest stunning discovery at Vindolanda. In June archaeologists found 25 wooden tablets that could reveal fascinating details of everyday life on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire. Archaeologists believe that the tablets date from between 85 and 92 A.D.
Experts could clearly read one of the tablets – a letter from a soldier called Masclus to his commanding officer requesting leave.
Amateur archeologists in Southern England recently uncovered an elaborate ancient mosaic that is believed to depict the Roman gods Hercules and Cupid.
Earlier this month an incredibly well-preserved Viking sword was found by a reindeer hunter on a remote mountain in Southern Norway.
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