Archaeologists find carved head of ‘Geordie Roman god’

The stone carved head of a ‘Geordie Roman god’ has been found at Binchester Roman Fort, near Bishop Auckland.

The 1,800-year-old item was found by archaeologists in an ancient rubbish dump. First year Durham University archaeology student Alex Kirton found the artefact, which measures about 20cm by 10cm, in buried late Roman rubbish within what was probably a bath house.

“We found the Binchester head close to where a small Roman altar was found two years ago. We think it may have been associated with a small shrine in the bath house and dumped after the building fell out of use, probably in the 4th century AD,” explained Dr David Petts, Lecturer in Archaeology at Durham University.

“It is probably the head of a Roman god – we can’t be sure of his name, but it does have similarities to the head of Antenociticus found at Benwell in the 19th century.”

The find comes during a five year project at the fort which is looking at the twilight years of the Roman Empire.

Every summer students from Durham and the United States are joined by volunteer members of the public at the site.

The current Binchester dig is a project between Durham University’s Department of Archaeology, site owner Durham County Council, Stanford University’s Archaeology Centre and the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham and Northumberland.

Visitors attending the Binchester Roman Festival on Saturday, 13th July and Sunday, 14th July will be able to see the head for themselves, along with other objects found during the current excavations. The Festival features guided tours of the excavations by Dr Mason as well as a programme of re-enactment events including firing of a full-size model of a ballista, a Roman artillery catapult, and demonstrations of ancient riding and fighting skills.