THE Romans have invaded Durham

Human Bio Archaeologist Anwen Caffell with one of the skeleton displays.
Human Bio Archaeologist Anwen Caffell with one of the skeleton displays.
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SIX human skeletons, thought to be the remains of Roman gladiators, have gone on display at a new visitor attraction in Durham.

The Gladiators: A Cemetery of Secrets is a joint venture between Durham County Council and York Archaeological Trust.

The exhibition, in the former visitor information centre in Millennium Place, will run until March.

The skeletons, which were the subject of a Channel 4 documentary last year, were uncovered during an excavation in York between 2004 and 2005. Eighty burials were excavated, of which 60 were mostly complete skeletons. Almost all were male and the majority were adults.

Dr Anwen Caffell, a teaching fellow in Durham University’s archaeology department, played a key role in researching their origins. She worked with Malin Holst, of York Osteoarchaeology Ltd, to review some of the injuries, illnesses and ages of selected skeletons.

Kurt Hunter-Mann, a field officer at York Archaeological Trust, who led the original excavation, said: “The skeletons have been the centre of much global interest over the last year and have been the subject of ongoing debate as to how they came to be lying decapitated in the large cemetery site.

“Opinion still remains divided. Unusual marks on the skeletons, including possible bite marks from large carnivorous animals, fuel the debate that the skeletons could be the remains of gladiators, who lived and fought in York during the Roman occupation.

“The exhibition shows all of the evidence, and should help reignite the ‘Were they gladiators?’ debate, as well as inviting visitors to have their say.”

The skeletons will be on display until March 31. Admission is £2 for adults, £1 children and concessions.Go to www.cemeteryofsecrets.com for information or call 332 4041.

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