Roman cemetery in Leicester yields individuals of African descent

Excavations at the Roman Era cemetery in Leicester, England, revealed 83 skeletons of which 5 had African cranial features. Further isotope analysis revealed that one of the dead was probably born in the Pennines area (North England), and the other in the city itself.

Excavation of a burial at the site (by University of Leicester)
Excavation of a burial at the site (by University of Leicester)

Work on a part of the large Roman cemetery revealed burials dating back to the 2nd century AD. A total of 83 skeletons were discovered between 2010-2015, including five with African cranial features – two of which, including a child, appear to have been born in the Roman province of Britannia.

Elaborate belt buckle (by University of Leicester)
Elaborate belt buckle (by University of Leicester)

The highlight of the dig was the discovery of the grave of a middle-aged man wearing an elaborately-decorated belt, thought by the archaeologists to be in the style of a late Roman soldier or civil servant living in the latter half of the 4th or early 5th century. The decorations on the buckle show what appears to be a dolphin’s heads and crouching dogs.

The finds from the cemetery (by University of Leicester)
The finds from the cemetery (by University of Leicester)

The area was just part of a much larger cemetery which would have sat outside the walls of the Roman-era settlement. Other finds from the cemetery include pottery vessels, bronze and glass jewellery, numerous beads, buckles, pins and other personal objects.

(after Leicester Mercury, University of Leicester, PA & Daily Mail Online)

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