‘Astonishing’ discovery of Roman sculptures in abandoned church in Buckinghamshire

Archaeologists digging along the route of the HS2 high-speed line have discovered an “astonishing” collection of Roman sculptures.

The find was made in an abandoned medieval church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire.

Two full busts of what appears to be a man and a woman were found, as well as the head of a child.

Experts believe the site was used as a Roman mausoleum (HS2 Ltd / PA)

A hexagonal Roman glass jug was also discovered with large pieces still intact although they had been in the ground for over 1,000 years.

A ship on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is the only known comparable item.

Dr Rachel Wood, chief archaeologist of contractor HS2 Fusion JV, told the PA news agency: ‘They are extremely important because they are really rare finds in the UK.

“Finding a stone head or a pair of shoulders would be really amazing, but we also have two full heads and shoulders as well as a third head.

“They are even more important to us archaeologically because they actually helped change our understanding of the site here before the medieval church was built.”

The finds from the former St Mary’s Church were sent to a laboratory for specialist cleaning and analysis, including dating.

Dr Wood added: “They are so important and so remarkable that we certainly hope they will end up being exposed to the local community.”

Experts believe the site was used as a Roman mausoleum before the Norman church was built in AD 1080.

Around 3,000 bodies have been removed from the church and will be reburied at a new site.

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