Hertfordshire – six foot nine
ROMAN GIANT’S SKELETON.
1600 YEARS AGO. RECONSTRUCTING A CRIME.
The skeleton of a Roman giant who was 6ft 9in in height was dug up in a field on the outskirts of Baldock, Hertfordshire, a few weeks ago. It adds another link to the chain of evidence which archaeologists and antiquarians are forging concerning the Roman occupation of Britain.
The skeleton was in a sitting position, the head 3ft 6in below the surface. It was surrounded by clay of the kind in which pieces of Roman pottery and Roman coins have been found during the past few years in those parts.
The discovery was made by a young Liverpool archaeologist, Mr E. S. Applebaum, who went to Baldock at the invitation of the Letchworth Museum Excavations Committee, under whose auspices many surprising finds of the Roman era in Great Britain have been unearthed. Mr Applebaum was assisted by a young woman, Miss Briant of Peterborough, and a small band of volunteers.
This little company of searchers into the buried past were hard at work in the hot sunshine with their trowels, picks, and
shovels, when a visitor found them in the fields of hidden history.
A few youths, mostly out of work, stood on the edge of the pit, watching the excavators with wandering eyes. There was the skeleton of the Roman giant lying exposed in his bed of clay. The teeth in his lower jaw were intact, with the exception of one molar. A few yards away the excavators had unearthed another skeleton-probably that of a woman-of much smaller build.
Every time the diggers came across a scrap of evidence, Mr Applebaum jotted particulars down in his pocketbook. He told some strange things about his find, though, as he was careful to point out, he was not making any definite pronouncement on the skeletons until they had been scientifically cleaned.
The young archaeologist had reconstructed a drama of violent death 1600 years ago. The giant, he said, belonged to the late second or early third century A.D., as the clay deposit around it proved.
The Roman appeared to have been flung into a ditch, for his burial was quite different from that which was custom among the Romans of the period. The giant was a middle-aged man when he was struck down.
A few yards from where the skeletons were found, other excavators were hard at work unearthing traces of a Roman stone floor. “It seems that we are on the eve of important discoveries about the Roman habitation of these parts,” said Mr Applebaum. “As yet, we have found only the remains of their burial places, but we are confident that we shall find this place rich in historical finds.”
The digging season of the archaeologists is now in full swing. Undergraduates, students, and schoolboys, supervised by museum curators and university professors, are busy in various parts of England finding buried treasure.
This year the chief centres of operation are at Verulamium (St Albans), Camulodunum (Colchester), and Bourton-on-the-Water, in Gloucestershire.
1. DIGGING UP HISTORY.WESTERN STAR, 29 NOVEMBER 1932, PAGE 2
2. MURDERED GIANT. STAR (CHRISTCHURCH), VOLUME XLIV, ISSUE 587, 18 OCTOBER 1932, PAGE 1
3. ROMAN GIANT’S SKELETONPOVERTY BAY HERALD, VOLUME LIX, ISSUE 17913, 18 OCTOBER 1932, PAGE 5
4. DIGGING UP HISTORYNEW ZEALAND HERALD, VOLUME LXIX, ISSUE 21344, 19 NOVEMBER 1932, PAGE 2 (SUPPLEMENT)
DIGGING UP HISTORYWANGANUI CHRONICLE, VOLUME 75, ISSUE 286, 3 DECEMBER 1932, PAGE 10