Skeleton found with crucifixion nail

It’s an unusual find. Where did it turn up? In a town in the heart of the United Kingdom. The skeleton found with a crucifixion nail was found in the village of Fenstanton. It’s about 115 miles north of London. The nail goes through its heel. Cambridge University bone expert Corinne Duhig said the find is “somewhat unique”. An ancient Roman settlement was recently identified there.

The skeleton found with a bent crucifixion nail is an unusual case in England.
Skeleton found with bent crucifixion nail is unusual case in England.

Skeleton with wounds

This is the greatest evidence yet of a crucifixion. This was the type of punishment by which Jesus Christ died, also at the hands of the Romans. The settlement was discovered by the Albion Archaeology study centre.

Five small cemeteries were found. Forty adults and five children, several of them family members, were buried there. It is estimated that they were used between the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. They also found the remains of a man who had a piece of nail in his heel. The skeleton also had several wounds. His legs had traces of infections or inflammations. They would be caused by a systemic disorder or by being tied to a shackle.

Archaeologist Kasia Gdaniec says: “Funerary practices are many and various during the Roman period. And we had occasionally seen evidence of ante- or postmortem mutilations. But never a crucifixion”.

There were traces of other damage and injuries to the skeleton.
There were traces of other damage and injuries to the skeleton.

Bent nail

For Duhig of Wolfson College, “It’s a lucky combination. There is good preservation and the nail remains in the bone. So we can examine this almost unique example of what crucifixion was. Even in remote villages, no one could avoid these terrible punishments,” he added.

Other finds have provided evidence of crucifixions around the world. There is one at Larda in Italy, another at Mendes in Egypt. Also north of Jerusalem one was found in 1968. This one bears similarities to the one in the UK: it also has a nail buried in a bone.

It was usual after crucifixion for nails to be removed for reuse. But in this case, the nail was bent and fixed in the foot. In the excavation some additional objects were found. There were coins, decorative ceramics and animal bones.

The skeleton found with a crucifixion nail was part of a larger discovery. The remains of a large building and a formal courtyard were uncovered at the site. It would be an organized Roman settlement with signs of a very active trade. They hope to be able to show the finds to the public in the future.

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