An extremely rare, carved wooden figure from the early Roman era has been unearthed in a ditch in the UK.
The figure is carved from a single piece of wood. The lack of oxygen in the ditch helped prevent rotting over many centuries, but archaeologists said its preservation was incredible.
This find brings us face to face with our past. Jim Williams, a senior science adviser for Historic England, said that the figure is exciting because organic objects from this period rarely survive.
The figure is wearing a tunic that is gathered at the waist and found in a field near Twyford. The feet and arms below the elbows have degraded, but it may be wearing a hat, styled hair and has well-defined legs.
More than 1,000 archaeologists have been working on at least 60 separate sites along the route of the high speed rail project. The project is an opportunity to shed light on 10,000 years of history.
Before digs began, the route was mapped by laser scanning and surveys. The overall budget for the first phase of the project is estimated to be £45 billion, with archaeological investigation being a legally binding condition of the project.
The figure is wearing a tunic that is gathered at the waist and found in a field near Twyford. The photograph is of the high speed train.
The world's oldest railway roundhouse, a Roman settlement in Northamptonshire, 16th-century gardens in Warwickshire, and a trio of Roman statues at an abandoned medieval church are just some of the finds.
The scale of the project is unprecedented, so it's not surprising that spectacular discoveries have been made. Britain has been in continuous occupation for thousands of years and has a skilled archaeological workforce.
Alice Roberts said that the finds along the high speed rail route showed how rich the archaeological landscape of the country was. She said that this is the biggest archaeological investigation that Britain has ever seen.
Many objects that have been unearthed will be displayed in museums. The Roman road in Northamptonshire will be bulldozed to make way for the high speed rail line.
Helen Wass, the head of heritage, said that archaeology is a double-edged sword. If construction wasn't happening, we wouldn't be doing it. You can't have both of them. If construction happens, we record our heritage to the best of our ability.
Wass wouldn't say how much the archaeological work had cost so far, but he did say that the cost was built into the project's budget. The fieldwork on phase one is expected to be done by the end of 2022, but the analysis will take several more years.
Pitt said the wooden figure was a fantastic find. It is rare to get Roman carved woodwork in Britain. It has something in the pose of the figure and the dress that suggests it is Roman.
The figure will be analysed and studied at York Archaeology. A fragment that was broken off in the ditch will be radiocarbon-dated to find out the exact date of the wood.