An ancient Roman coffin that lay buried in Leeds for over 1,600 years is set to be revealed in new exhibition

Well this is a bit spooky.

This once-on-a-lifetime find was made during excavation work in a previously unknown site near Garforth.

An ancient lead coffin that has been buried in a Leeds field for over 1,600 years is set to be revealed to the public for the first time.

The incredible discovery was made by the West Yorkshire Archaeological Services.

It contained the remains of a woman aged 25-35, believed to have been of high status and maybe a Roman aristocrat, who was buried wearing a bracelet, glass bead necklace and a finger ring or earring.

The archaeologists who carried out detailed analysis have also discovered that the coffin contained the partial remains of an unknown child, thought to be aged around 10 years old.

The ancient coffin found in Leeds.
Image: Leeds City Council

The coffin and its lid are currently being carefully conserved and stabilised for display at Leeds City Museum where they will be mounted in a bespoke case as one of the new central exhibits.

Living with Death opens on Friday 3 May and explores how different cultures across the world approach death, dying and bereavement.

As well as the coffin, the Garforth dig also unearthed the remains of more than 60 men, women and children who lived close by more than fifteen hundred years ago.

Kat Baxter, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of archaeology, said: “This is a truly unique and remarkable find which has potentially huge implications for our understanding of the history of early Leeds and those who made their home here.

A lady working on an ancient coffin found in Leeds.
Image: Leeds City Council

“The discovery of the remains of a second individual within the coffin is fascinating, particularly as they belonged to a child. It poses some interesting questions about how people more than 1,600 years ago treated their dead.

“The Roman lead coffin itself is also the only one ever discovered in West Yorkshire and the site has provided us with new opportunities to study life and death in ancient Yorkshire. We’re delighted to be able to display the coffin so quickly after excavation, and we’re looking forward to sharing this amazing piece of history with our visitors.”

Living with Death is free to visit and will run from Friday 3 May 2024 until January Sunday January 5 2025.

Read more: Planning permission approved for the tallest building in all of Yorkshire

Featured image – Leeds City Council

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