A Roman Head Is Unearthed, but Mysteries Remain

When you dig in a country with as much history as Britain, sometimes you find something remarkable.

It might be a gold necklace. It might be the bones of a king.

Or, in a more recent case, it might be the marble head of a woman from the Roman era that disappeared at some point in the last 250 years.

Sometimes, such a find comes with a mystery: How the heck did the woman make her way from Burghley House, a stately home near Peterborough, England, to a shallow grave 300 yards away?

“Burghley has thrown up all sorts of discoveries over the years,” Jon Culverhouse, the house’s curator, said. “In cupboards, under stairs.”

A crew was building an auxiliary parking lot for the house last spring when the operator of an excavator, Greg Crawley, spotted the head in dirt he had lifted. It was buried only a foot or so beneath the surface.

Weeks later, the lady’s shoulders were found, though they were sculpted much later than the marble head. This kind of Frankenstein statue was common in the 18th century, as adding modern shoulders made the ancient head more desirable to a potential buyer.

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