A Cemetery of Secrets

From 2004-5 we excavated eighty burials at Driffield Terrace in York. This site was part of a large cemetery on the outskirts of the Roman town of Eboracum, across the river from the legionary fortress.

The burials displayed evidence that so intrigued the archaeologists that further investigation was needed. The male skeletons displayed deliberate trauma, interesting pathology and peri-mortem decapitation. Working with York, Durham, Reading and Trinity College Dublin Universities we have been continuing our search for the answer to the question of whether these people could have been a group of gladiators, who lived and fought in York during the Roman occupation.

Scientific work that has been carried out by experts includes genomic analysis, stable isotope work, dental calculus analysis and osteological recording. These results can be accessed here alongside a new site report that brings together all the findings and a report that explores the small finds from the site.

Working with Teeside University we have also been specifically analysing one of the wounds on one of the individuals to see if we can determine if it is, in fact, a bite mark inflicted by a large animal.

 Project Reports

Driffield Terrace by K. Hunter-Mann

Selected Roman Small Finds from the Cemetery at nos. 3 and 6 Driffield Terrace, York by H.E.M. Cool

‘Gleaming, white and deadly’: Using lead to track human exposure and geographic origins in the Roman period in Britain.

‘The ‘Headless Romans’: Multi-isotope investigations of an unusual burial ground from Roman Britain

Unearthed Issue 1 – 3 Driffield Terrace, York: Vertebrate remains analysis by Alison Foster

Unearthed Issue 3 – 6 Driffield Terrace, York: Vertabrate remains analysis by Alison Foster and Deborah Jaques

Osteological Report

3 and 6 Driffield Terrace 2004.354 & 2005.513