Garforth Roman lead coffin to go on display

The Roman lead coffin discovered in Garforth, near Leeds, in 2022 will go on display for the first time in an exhibition at the Leeds City Museum next month.

The coffin was unearthed in an excavation of a previously unknown cemetery containing burials of more than 60 men, women and children from the late Roman and early Saxon periods (5th-8th centuries). The lead coffin was used as the inner lining of a larger wood coffin which has decayed leaving only the metal interior in place. Lead coffins were expensive and rare, only affordable by the elite of Romano- British society. Pieces of jewelry — a bracelet, glass bead necklace and ring — were found inside the coffin, confirming the aristocratic status of the deceased.

When it was first discovered, the skeletal remains of an adult woman between 25 and 35 years of age were found inside the coffin. Later analysis of the contents of the lead coffin found the partial remains of a young child buried at the same time as the woman.

The coffin and its lid are currently being conserved and stabilised for display at Leeds City Museum, as part of the new exhibition Living with Death.

Kat Baxter, Leeds Museums and Galleries’ curator of archaeology, said: “This is a truly unique and remarkable find which has potentially huge implications for our understanding of the history of early Leeds and those who made their home here.”

She added: “The discovery of the remains of a second individual within the coffin is fascinating, particularly as they belonged to a child.

“It poses some interesting questions about how people more than 1,600 years ago treated their dead.”

Ms Baxter explained the Roman lead coffin was the only one of its kind ever discovered in West Yorkshire.

“We’re delighted to be able to display the coffin so quickly after excavation, and we’re looking forward to sharing this amazing piece of history with our visitors,” she said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.