Archaeologists Discover Skeletal Remains Believed to Show First Example of Roman Crucifixion in the UK

Written by on December 15, 2021

Archaeologists in a Cambridgeshire village have uncovered rare skeletal remains of a man with a nail through his heel. Some believe the remains could be the first example of a Roman crucifixion in the United Kingdom.

Corinne Duhig, a human bone specialist of Cambridge University’s Wolfson College, described the finding as “almost unique” because of its “good preservation.”

“This shows that the inhabitants of even this small settlement at the edge of empire could not avoid Rome’s most barbaric punishment,” she continued.

According to archeologists, the only other confirmed examples of crucifixions like this have been found in Israel. There have also been two possible discoveries reported in Italy and Egypt.

“Well, it’s the first time a skeleton has been excavated archaeologically that anyone has found a nail in, so it’s not the sort of thing you’re looking for,” David Ingham, project manager at Albion Archaeology, said. Albion Archaeology is leading the excavation project.

“We know a reasonable amount about crucifixion … how it was practiced and where it was practiced and when and so on from historical accounts,” he added. “But it’s the first tangible evidence to actually see how it worked.”

As reported by CBN News, the skeleton was initially discovered in November of 2017 in Fenstanton. At the time of the excavation, the nail was unnoticed because it was covered in mud, but archaeologists later found it.

As reported by The Guardian, the crucified man appeared to be 25 and 35 years old when he died.

The skeleton of the crucified man showed multiple injuries and abnormalities, indicating that he suffered before his death. Additionally, his legs were found to have signs of an infection likely caused by bindings or shackles.

At the site the skeletal remains were found, archaeologists discovered five small cemeteries where 40 adults and five children were buried.

“These cemeteries and the settlement that developed along the Roman road at Fenstanton are breaking new ground in archaeological research. Burial practices are many and varied in the Roman period, and evidence of ante- or post-mortem mutilation is occasionally seen, but never crucifixion,” archaeologist Kasia Gdaniec said on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council’s historic environment team.

According to Telegraph and Argus, Gdaniec hopes that more information on the crucified man will be released and his remains will be put on public display.

“We look forward to finding out more when the results are published,” Gdaniec said. “Hopefully, there will be a museum exhibit to showcase the remains soon, and we are working to arrange this.”

Crucifixion was a commonly used form of punishment by the Roman Empire, with the best-known example being the crucifixion of Jesus Christ in 33 AD. It was later abolished in the Roman Empire by Constantine I, also known as Constantine the Great, in 337 AD.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Microgen, this is a stock image

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

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