They find the “greatest evidence so far” of a crucifixion in the United Kingdom from Roman times

It was an “almost unique” find, said several archaeologists who have had access to the excavations.


One of the earliest evidences of the crucifixion by the Romans was found in a town in the heart of the United Kingdom.

The skeleton of a man with a nail through his heel was found in the town of Fenstanton, about 115 kilometers north of London.

Cambridge University bone expert Corinne Duhig noted that the find is “unique” in a site that was recently identified as an ancient Roman settlement.

The expert pointed out that even in the United Kingdom “its inhabitants could not avoid one of the most cruel punishments imposed by the Romans.”

For many of the archaeologists who have worked in this place, it is the “greatest evidence so far” of a crucifixion, a punishment that has attracted the attention of millions for being the way in which Jesus Christ died, also at the hands of the Romans.

The settlement was discovered by the Albion Archeology study center, which began excavating the area as part of urban development works.

There they found five small cemeteries where 40 adults and five children had been buried, several of them relatives.

Tomb of the crucified man
The skeleton of the crucified man was discovered along with other burials. (Photo: ALBION ARCHAEOLOGY)

It is estimated that the cemeteries were used between the 3rd and 4th centuries after Christ.

There they also discovered the remains of a man who he had a piece of nail on his heel.

In addition to the metal, several wounds that the man may have suffered before his death were also recorded on the skeleton. His legs had traces of infections or inflammation that could have been caused by a systemic disorder or by being tied to a shackle.

Nail in the heel bone
A nail was found embedded in the man’s ankle. (Photo: ALBION ARCHAEOLOGY)
Crucified Man Skeleton
The skeleton of the crucified man showed other signs of suffering, archaeologists said. (Photo: ALBION ARCHAEOLOGY)

Unique find

For the archaeologist Kasia Gdaniec, from the Cambridgeshire County Council – the region where the find was made -, “these cemeteries and these settlements that were created along the Roman road that crossed Fenstanton have given new clues in archaeological research.”

“The funeral practices are many and various during the Roman period. And we had occasionally seen evidence of ante or postmortem mutilation, but never a crucifixion. “

For Duhig, who is an osteologist at Wolfson College, “the fortunate combination of good preservation and the nail they left in the bone has allowed us to examine this almost unique example of what the crucifixion was.”

“This shows that people who lived even in villages far from the center of the empire Roman could not avoid one of the most cruel punishments that existed at that time“He added.

This finding joins the few others that have provided evidence of crucifixions in the world: one in Larda, in Italy, another in Mendes in Egypt and another in Giv’at ha Mivar, north of Jerusalem, which was found in 1968.

This latest find is the one that bears the most similarities to that of the United Kingdom: it also shows a piece of nail buried in a bone and was unearthed in the same position as the one found in Fenstanton.

According to the review made by the Council itself, it was usual that after the crucifixion the nails were removed to use them again, but in this case, the nail was bent and fixed in the bone.

During the excavation, funerary elements such as coins, decorative ceramics and animal bones.

roman pottery
Ceramic objects and other funerary items were also found at the site. (Photo: ALBION ARCHAEOLOGY)
Enameled brooch
An enameled copper alloy horse and rider brooch was one of the finds. (Photo: ALBION ARCHAEOLOGY)

The Council also noted that the discovery of a large building and a formal courtyard would indicate that it is an organized Roman settlement with signs of very active trade.

And they further noted that they hoped to show the findings to the public in the future.

The Fenstanton Roman Route follows the Via Devana route, a road that linked the Roman cities of Cambridge and Godmanchester.

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