Friday, 10 October 2008

Iconic Roman tombstone unveiled at Lancaster City Museum

An iconic Roman cavalry tombstone will be returned to Lancaster and officially unveiled by Lancashire County Council and the Lancashire Museums Service at Lancaster City Museum on Wednesday 15 October 2008.

The long awaited unveiling will be attended by a number of county councillors and partner agencies to witness this special event in celebration of its return to Lancaster.

The impressive tombstone, dating back to 100 AD, was discovered in Lancaster in November 2005 during an excavation in Aldcliffe Road by the Greater Manchester Archaeology Unit which is based at the University of Manchester.

Described by a number of scholars as 'unique' and of 'significant archaeological importance', the massive stone - almost six feet in height and approximately 1500lbs in weight, depicts a quarter master or junior officer of the ala Augusta riding with the severed head of a barbarian enemy in his hand.

Since its discovery, Lancashire County Council and the Museums Service together with Lancaster City Council secured funding from the Museums, Libraries and Archives (MLA) Purchase Grant Fund, Haverfield Bequest (supporting research on Roman Britain), and the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Specialist staff at the county council’s conservation studio in Preston have since worked to conserve the tombstone so it is suitable for permanent public display in Lancaster, where it will be placed in its most fitting setting at Lancaster City Museum, not far from the site where it has lain for almost 2000 years.

"It's fantastic that we have been able to save this important piece and keep it here in Lancaster for the people of Lancashire to learn from and enjoy," said County Councillor Anne Brown, cabinet member for adult and community services. "This is a great example of how Lancashire County Council along with the city council and other public bodies and agencies have worked in partnership together to preserve part of Lancashire's heritage and continue to offer interesting and exciting exhibitions through our Museum's to local people."

"I am extremely pleased that the tombstone has become part of the local collection in Lancaster," Stephen Bull, curator of Military History and Archaeology for Lancashire Museums, added, "and will now be on permanent display after a lot of hard work and effort from all involved with the project.

"This stone provides a crucial insight into the history of the county, and an iconic piece of Lancaster's dramatic past."

Visitors to Lancaster City Museum will be able to see this remarkable piece from Wednesday 15 October at 11.00am with more exciting displays to come later in the year.

The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm and entry is free to all visitors. Please be aware that on Wednesday, 15 October, the museum will not be open to the public until 11.00am.

• For further information please contact Lancaster City Museum on 01524 64637 or visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/museums

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