HS2: Roman statues found by archaeologists at abandoned Buckinghamshire church while digging high-speed railway route

·2-min read

Watch: Archaeologists working on HS2 discover Roman artefacts

Archaeologists digging on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway have discovered a set of Roman statues at an abandoned church. 

The collection was uncovered at the medieval St Mary's Church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire.

Two complete statues of what appear to be a man and a woman were found, along with the head of a child.

A hexagonal glass Roman jug was also discovered with large pieces still intact, despite being underground for what is thought to be more than 1,000 years.

The only other comparable item is a vessel on display in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Lead archaeologist for HS2 contractor Fusion JV, Dr Rachel Wood, said the finds were "hugely significant" and "rare in the UK".

"To find one stone head or one set of shoulders would be really astonishing, but we have two complete heads and shoulders as well as a third head," she said.

"They're even more significant to us archaeologically because they've actually helped change our understanding of the site here before the medieval church was built."

The discoveries at the church site, which is believed to have previously been the location of a Roman mausoleum, have been sent to a lab for specialist cleaning and analysis.

Dr Wood added that she hopes they will end up on display for the local community to see.

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

HS2 is a new high-speed railway that will link up London, the Midlands, the North and Scotland.

Its first phase, which will see links created between London and Birmingham, is currently undergoing construction.

In July, hundreds of rare Iron Age coins were found in Hillingdon, west London, by archaeologists working on the HS2 route.

Watch: Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak fails to commit to eastern HS2 leg days before autumn Budget is revealed in Commons

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