THE Corinium Museum, in Cirencester, tweeted this morning that the Bodicacia tombstone has arrived from Cotswold Archaeology where it has been studied following its discovery in February 2015.

The tombstone was discovered at the former Bridges Garage Site in Tetbury Road when it was excavated ahead of building work and is one of the best preserved tombstones to be found in the UK.

The tombstone was uncovered lying face down, during the second phase of excavations at the site, and after its careful removal, was transported to Cotswold Archaeology to be examined by specialists.

Amanda Hart, the Director of the Corinium Museum, delivered a talk on Tuesday afternoon, summarising what archaeologists have discovered about the second century AD tombstone over the past 11 months.

Despite some debate, it was determined that the tombstone’s inscription reads: “To the shades of the dead; Bodicacia; spouse; lived 27 years.”

The name Bodicacia, has Celtic origins and was unknown until the discovery of the tombstone, although examples of the name Bodica, Bodicca and other variations have found elsewhere in the Roman Empire, for example Lollia Bodicca in Algiers.

The wording of the inscription is unusual, in particular the positioning of the word spouse, which suggests that the tombstone was not meant to be read alone and may originally have been positioned next to that of Bodicacia’s husband.

The intricate detailing around the top of the tombstone and the lack of weathering, suggests that it was once set within wall and therefore protected from the elements.

Some Romans were buried within walled gardens or mausoleums and during the excavations foundations for a four walled building were discovered.

The tombstone also provides a narrative about the change of religion with the Roman Empire.

The relief set within the top of the tombstone is of Oceanus, a pagan god who was associated with protecting people on their journey to the afterlife.

On Bodicacia’s tombstone the face of Oceanus has been chiseled off, perhaps a deliberate destruction of a pagan image by someone who believed in the new religion of Christianity, which was formally recognised in Britain in 312AD, following the conversion of Emperor Constantine.

“Very few Roman tombstones survive in Britain so when a new one is discovered, complete with inscription, it is exceptional and a real treat that it happened here in Cirencester”, said Amanda Hart, Director of the Corinium Museum. “Tombstones are a valuable source of information and can tell us about individuals and the wider Roman society.”

“I am delighted that Bodicacia will be going on display in February and joining six other inscribed tombstones found in Cirencester.

“Each one has its own story to tell, but what’s exciting about Bodicacia is that we also know the story of its unearthing.”

Cotswold Archaeology’s Neil Holbrook will be the Corinium Museum on Thursday, January 28 to deliver an evening lecture about the discovery of the Bodicacia tombstone, examining the world she would have known in Cirencester and the Cotswolds.

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