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Archaeologists digging on the route of the HS2 high-speed railway have uncovered an “astounding” set of Roman sculptures.
The discovery was made at an abandoned medieval church in Stoke Mandeville, Buckinghamshire
Two complete busts of what appear to be a man and a woman were found, plus the head of a child.
A hexagonal glass Roman jug was also uncovered with large pieces still intact despite being in the ground for what is thought to be more than 1,000 years.
A vessel on display in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art is the only known comparable item.
Dr Rachel Wood, lead archaeologist for HS2 contractor Fusion JV, told the PA news agency: “They’re hugely significant because they’re really rare finds in the UK.
“To find one stone head or one set of shoulders would be really astonishing, but we have two complete heads and shoulders as well as a third head as well.
“They’re even more significant to us archaeologically because they’ve actually helped change our understanding of the site here before the medieval church was built.”
The discoveries at the old St Mary’s Church have been sent to a laboratory for specialist cleaning and analysis, including dating them.
Dr Wood added: “They are so significant and so remarkable that we would certainly hope that they will end up on display for the local community to see.”
Experts believe the location was used as a Roman mausoleum before the Norman church was built in the year 1080 AD.
Around 3,000 bodies have been removed from the church and will be reburied at a new site.