Ancient Roman Swords Unearthed In the Cotswolds – ‘A Remarkable Archaeological Find’

Photo Credit: Cotswolds District Council
Photo Credit: Cotswolds District Council

The central-southwest region of England is known for its rural landscape and quaint towns, but what many might not be aware of is that it was once home to individuals who were alive during the reign of the Roman Empire. Those in need of proof need look no further than the recent discovery of two ancient Roman swords, which were discovered by a metal detectorist during a rally north of the Cotswolds in March 2023.

Two ancient Roman swords placed on a table
Ancient Roman swords unearthed north of the Cotswolds. (Photo Credit: Cotswolds District Council)

Glenn Manning, the metal detectorist who located the ancient Roman artifacts, not only found the two cavalry swords, but the remnants of their wooden scabbards and a broken copper alloy bowl. They were sent to Professor Simon James with Leicester University for appraisal, who confirmed they’re spathas – long swords that were typically equipped by soldiers in the Roman Army between the 1st and 6th centuries AD.

That being said, it wasn’t illegal for civilians to own such weapons, given the bandits that ran rampant across the empire.

“The new discovery shows what an incredibly deep history the Cotswolds has,” Councilor Paul Hodgkinson said in a press release from the Cotswolds District Council. “People famously asked, ‘What have the Romans ever done for us?’. Well, they have just given us some amazing examples of weapons used almost 2000 years ago when Cirencester was the second biggest town in Britain. This is truly a remarkable archaelogical find and I can’t wait for visitors to see them on display in the years to come.”

James explained the significance of the discovery, saying, “In terms of parallels, I can’t think of finds of more than one sword being deposited in any similar circumstance from Roman Britain. The closest that springs to mind was a pair of similar swords found in Canterbury – with their owners, face down in a pit within the city walls, clearly a clandestine burial, almost certainly a double murder.”

Speaking in a YouTube video about the discovery, Emma Stuart, director of the Corinium Museum in Cirenester, England, said, “It’s an incredibly important find and one that should excite everybody. These two swords are testimony to presence of Roman military in the north of the Cotswold District.”

The ancient Roman swords have since been sent to the museum, where, with the asistance of Historic England, they’ll undergo further X-ray anaylsis. The site north of the Cotswolds will also be archaeologically appraised, to help gather information as to how the weaponry ended up buried in the region.

More from us: Expedition Produces New Images of Shipwrecks from the Battle of Midway

“The question is, and the mystery is, why were those swords buried in the north of the Cotswolds? What were they doing there?,” Stuart asked in the video, echoing the questions archaeologists hope to one day be able to answer.

Clare Fitzgerald

Clare Fitzgerald is a Writer and Editor with eight years of experience in the online content sphere. Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts from King’s University College at Western University, her portfolio includes coverage of digital media, current affairs, history and true crime.

Among her accomplishments are being the Founder of the true crime blog, Stories of the Unsolved, which garners between 400,000 and 500,000 views annually, and a contributor for John Lordan’s Seriously Mysterious podcast. Prior to its hiatus, she also served as the Head of Content for UK YouTube publication, TenEighty Magazine.

In her spare time, Clare likes to play Pokemon GO and re-watch Heartland over and over (and over) again. She’ll also rave about her three Maltese dogs whenever she gets the chance.

Writing Portfolio
Stories of the Unsolved