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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Slideshow: Roman woman's remains back on display after 30 year absence

From finds by prehistoric hunters tens of thousands of years ago to fascinating Roman discoveries from a dig underneath Cambridge’s John Lewis, The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology reopens tomorrow after a £1.8 million refurbishment with a new exhibition charting the history of the county as well as many other world treasures. ALICE HUTTON takes a tour.

In 1952, builders dug up the coffin of a high-born Roman woman from the 4th century AD.
Lying in a woollen shroud, the 40-55-year-old had been placed securely in a hefty stone and lead-lined casket before being buried in Arbury.

Not safely enough it seems for not only did the undertakers put her in the wrong way round, but the skeletons of a mouse and shrew were also discovered, having had a good nibble at her ankle.

The gruesome remains might have inspired one of Sylvia Plath’s most iconic poems, All the Dead Dears, while she was studying at Cambridge University in the 1950s, but in the 1980s the coffin disappeared from public view at Cambridge University’s The Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology (MAA).

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