Stone coffin holds Roman remains

A stone coffin thought to contain the remains of a high-ranking Roman official has been unearthed on the site of a housing development in the West Country.

Archaeologists discovered the sarcophagus at Mangotsfield, near Bristol, while examining a former school playing field before the bulldozers moved in. The find is regarded as one of the most important Roman discoveries in the region.

Experts from the Avon Archaeological Unit believe the skeleton, which has been nicknamed Titus, belongs to an important Roman official who was able to afford a lavish burial. They hope the find could lead them to the site of a nearby Roman villa.

The skeleton is believed to date to between 200 and 400AD, close to the fall of the Roman Empire.

It has been taken to the Bristol Industrial Museum where bone expert Dr Geraldine Barber will carry out tests, which could include DNA profiling.