Stone 'Geordie God' Head Found By Student

4 July 2013, 06:48

A student's found a 1,800 year old stone head of a "possible Geordie god", buried in an ancient rubbish dump in County Durham.

The 20cm sandstone head, which dates from the 2nd or 3rd century AD, is thought to have been worshipped as a source of inspiration in war.

The find was made at Binchester Roman Fort, near Bishop Auckland, by first year archaeology student Alex Kirton as the team dug at an old bath house.

A similar head, complete with an inscription identifying it as Antenociticus, was found at Benwell, in Newcastle, in 1862.

Mr Kirton, 19, from Hertfordshire, said:
"As an archaeology student this is one of the best things and most exciting things that could have happened.

It was an incredible thing to find in a lump of soil in the middle of nowhere - I've never found anything remotely exciting as this."

Dr David Petts, lecturer in Archaeology at Durham University, said:
"We found the Binchester head close to where a small Roman altar was found two years ago.

We think it may have been associated with a small shrine in the bath house and dumped after the building fell out of use, probably in the 4th century AD.

It is probably the head of a Roman god - we can't be sure of his name, but it does have similarities to the head of Antenociticus found at Benwell in the 19th century.

Antenociticus is one of a number of gods known only from the northern frontier, a region which seems to have had a number of its own deities.

It's possibly a Geordie god, though it could have been worshipped at the other end of the wall."

The find was made as part of a five-year project at Binchester Roman Fort that is attempting to shed new light on the twilight years of the Roman Empire.

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