‘Astounding’ Roman statues unearthed at Norman church ruins on route of HS2

Archaeologists discovered Roman statues of a woman, a man and a child in an abandoned church that was built along the route of the HS2 high speed railway.
Rachel Wood, lead archaeologist at Stoke Mandeville in Buckinghamshire, said that the discovery was truly amazing. She said they were rare finds in the UK.

It is an amazing experience to look into the past through the statues.

The dig site uncovered three statue heads and two shoulders. Photograph by HS2/PA

Also found was a hexagonal glass Roman Jug. Large pieces were found intact despite being in the ground for over 1,000 years. A vessel that is on display at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is the only comparable item.

These statues were found in the remains of a Norman church. A team of archaeologists had been investigating the site for six months.

Saint Marys church was constructed in 1080 and rebuilt in the 13th,14th and 17th centuries. After being declared hazardous, it was abandoned in 1880 and demolished by the government in 1966. Its ruin became overgrown by vegetation.

Archaeologists began to remove the remains of the church in May and excavating the burial grounds. This ground was used for over 900 years and the last recorded burial was in 1908.

Experts believe that the site was once a Roman mausoleum. The location has been cleared of approximately 3,000 bodies and they will be reburied on a new site.

Wood stated that the discovery of the statues, jug and other items leads to the possibility that there might be more hidden treasures beneath England's medieval village churches. This was truly a unique site. We are eager to hear more from the experts about the incredible statues and the history surrounding the site.

They were sent to a laboratory for analysis and specialist cleaning.

The dig site at Saint Marys Church in Stoke Mandeville. Photograph by HS2/PA

Over 600 archaeologists have been working at over 60 sites on the HS2 route linking London and West Midlands in the last three years.

More than 50,000 bones were exhumed from a cemetery at Saint James Garden, near Euston station in central London. More than 6,500 skeletons from an 18th century cemetery were discovered in Birmingham.

In 2018, archaeologists began to work on the route of 150 miles.

Mike Court, HS2's lead archaeologist, said that the Roman statues discovered at Stoke Mandeville are just a few of the amazing artifacts that were found between London and West Midlands.

He said: HS2's unparalleled archaeology program has given us new insight into Britain's history, providing evidence about where and how our ancestors lived.