Human skeleton found among Roman artefacts during Gloucestershire A417 works

A 2,000-year-old Cupid figurine (left) and a bow-shaped brooch (right) were found, as well as a human skeleton. Credit: Highways England

Archaeologists have found a human skeleton and rare Roman artefacts during a recent dig in Gloucestershire.

The remains and items were found near the proposed A417 Missing Link route between Cirencester and Gloucester.

The Cupid figurine is estimated to be nearly 2,000-years-old, and is considered an extremely rare find.

The skeleton, meanwhile, is thought to be 4th Century Roman or even early Saxon.

The figurine of Cupid is thought to be nearly 2,000-years-old. Credit: Highways England

A bow-shaped brooch, believed to have once belonged to a wealthy Roman, was also found at the site.

Michael Goddard, Highways England Senior Project Manager for the A417, said: “The archaeology works we are undertaking along the A417 give us a significant insight into life on the site thousands of years ago, providing a unique glimpse into the past.

“It’s also fascinating to see that the Romans also left offerings to the God of love to keep them happy and help shape their own lives – with Cupid now a staple of Valentine’s Day celebrations all over the world.

“These finds help us understand the relationship between the improvement scheme and the surrounding historic environment which will ensure the protection of any historic finds for generations to come.”

Archaeologists surveyed the site near the A417 for four months, digging more than 300 trenches during that time.

The bow-shaped brooch. Credit: Highways England

The Cupid figurine, which is made of solid bronze, was found in a deposit of charcoal - suggesting it might have been an offering to the Gods.

‘Area rich in history’

Land surrounding the A417 Missing Link route was intensely utilised during the later Iron Age and Romano-British periods - with a major Roman road and Iron Age sites recorded across the wider area.

Jim Keyte, Archaeology Lead for the project, added: “The area of the project is rich in history, and the existing A417 largely follows the former Roman Road between Cirencester and Gloucester; Birdlip itself has its origins as a Roman settlement. 

What is the A417 Missing Link route?

The A417 provides an important route between Gloucester and Swindon that helps connect the midlands and north to the south of England.

It is an alternative to the M5/M4 route via Bristol, with the Missing Link itself is a three-mile stretch of single-lane carriageway on the A417 between the Brockworth bypass and Cowley roundabout in Gloucestershire.

Currently, it causes many problems for road users and those who live or work in the area, with congestion frequent and unpredictable.

The A417 is located in an area 'rich with history', according to experts.

This leads to some motorists diverting onto local roads to avoid tailbacks, causing difficulties for neighbouring communities as local roads were not built to accommodate so much traffic.

Poor visibility and other factors also mean that accidents, many of which are serious, occur along the road.

It is hoped the scheme, which will provide 3.4 miles of new dual carriageway, will boost economic growth for the region, reduce delays, increase safety and limit the road’s impact on local villages.

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