Length: 1.520 m
Gift of Revd Thomas Hill
Room 49: Roman Britain
Roman Britain, 4th century AD
From Haydon Square, Minories, London
The burial of a twelve-year old boy
When this sarcophagus was excavated, a lead coffin with the skeleton of a twelve-year old boy was found inside, covered with lime. The portrait on the small medallion is probably of the boy. The sarcophagus has a plain back, which probably indicates that it was originally set against a wall, probably the wall of a burial chamber or cemetery.
Burials in wood or lead coffins or stone sarcophagi, packed in lime, gypsum plaster or chalk, date to the later third and fourth centuries AD in Roman Britain. We do not know the reason for this form of burial, but the intention may have been to preserve the body while reducing the odours caused by its decay.