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1,700-year-old egg found in Aylesbury

The item was amongst other Roman finds during the building of Berryfields.

Published by Dan Gooding at 11:45am 9th December 2019. 3-minute read.

1,700-year-old egg found in Aylesbury

A 1,700 year old chicken egg has been found in Aylesbury.

It was dug up as archaeologists studied the Berryfields site, between 2007 and 2016, but the details have only just come out.

Oxford Archaeology have released details on the Roman settlement they discovered.

Among the many items found were the remains of a bridge, coins and four of the eggs.

Archaeological excavations carried out between 2007 and 2016 uncovered the remains of a middle Iron Age settlement and the agricultural hinterland of the putative nucleated Roman settlement of Fleet Marston, situated on the major Roman road of Akeman Street.

Edward Biddulph, senior project manager with Oxford Archaeology South,  told the BBC that the "standout discoveries" were found in a pit.

Mr Biddulph told them:

"The pit was still waterlogged and this has preserved a remarkable collection of organic objects.

"Most extraordinary of all was a basketry tray, made of woven oak bands and willow rods, and four chickens' eggs."

The eggs were so fragile, three broke releasing a "potent stench of rotten egg", he said.

A book of treasures

The group's new book describes the results of the fieldwork and analysis of an exceptional range of the artefactual and environmental evidence, much of it having been ritually deposited into a waterlogged pit in the late Roman period. 

The book also presents evidence for a long-lived late prehistoric territorial boundary, Roman malting and brewing and other roadside trades and crafts, and funerary activity, comprising roadside burials and a possible pyre site.

It also reveals the importance of livestock, especially horses, in the middle Iron Age and Roman economies.

Crucially, the volume draws on the findings of the analysis to shed light on the character of Roman Fleet Marston, which hitherto has been known only from chance finds.

Evidence from Berryfields and other sites in the area shows that over time, Fleet Marston found itself at the intersection of several routeways that took travellers into the countryside and on to major towns.

Its position at this important crossroads, together with hundreds of coins and other finds, potentially identifies the settlement as a market-place or administrative centre with extensive trade connections, a role that would be continued in Aylesbury in the medieval period and into modern times.

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