Two Roman Britain swords have been unearthed - the first time a pair have been found together, experts say. The 2,000-year-old 'rare and important' Roman cavalry swords along with wooden scabbards and fitments were discovered in the Cotswolds.
They were discovered near Cirencester by Glenn Manning during a metal detectorist rally. Experts say they ''can’t think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain''.
The swords were appraised by Professor Simon James from Leicester University who says they are middle imperial Roman swords commonly referred to as a spatha.
They were in use in the Roman world probably by the 160s, through the later second century and far into the third century AD.
Their considerable length suggests that they are cavalry weapons - meaning they were intended for use on horseback.
Councillor Paul Hodgkinson, said: “People famously asked, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’.
'Well, they have just given us some amazing examples of weapons used almost 2000 years ago when Cirencester was the second biggest town in Britain.'
''This is truly a remarkable archaeological find and I can’t wait for visitors to see them on display in the years to come.”
It was not illegal for civilians to own such weapons and to carry them for travelling because Roman provinces were plagued with banditry.
Proffessor James, said: “In terms of parallels, I can’t think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain.
''The closest that springs to mind was a pair of similar swords found in Canterbury—with their owners, face down in a pit within the city walls, clearly a clandestine burial, almost certainly a double murder.”
Soon after the discovery, Kurt Adams, Finds Liaison Officer, deposited the finds with the Corinium Museum to ensure their preservation.
Historic England is assisting the museum by arranging for the swords to go for further analysis under x-ray.
Archaeological appraisal at the dig site in the north of the Cotswolds may follow to help put the swords into context, as we don’t know why they ended up buried in the Cotswolds.
To learn more about the history of the Cotswolds head over to the Corinium Museum website.