Ancient coin bearing face of Roman Emperor Hadrian baffles Polish archaeologists

Hadrian’s Wall: Construction of Roman fortification explained

The ancient coin or denarius was found among more than 2,800 items recovered during a two-month excavation last year. Rather unusually, the Roman treasure was found in the village of Walawa near Poland’s southeast border with Ukraine. The archaeologists originally travelled to the village to pinpoint the location of an early-medieval cemetery last studied in 1939.

A scan of the fields surrounding the village revealed a number of “anomalies” just beneath the surface, which were at first thought to be long-forgotten graves.

Instead, the archaeologists uncovered two dugouts packed to the brim with Roman-era artefacts.

Although the borders of the Roman empire never reached this deep into central-eastern Europe, the discovery shows how far-reaching the empire’s influence was.

According to the regional Office of Monuments Protection, the archaeologists excavated about 14 acres of land and uncovered in the process thousands of items, including shards of broken pottery, brooches and Emperor Hadrian’s coin (76 to 138 AD).

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The researchers presented 13 items of particular interest, including four from the Roman era, three from the Early Modern Period, two from the 20th century and four that have not been dated yet.

The Office of Monument Protection said: “The most interesting object was the dugout No.1, from which 1,597 fragments of ceramics and seven metal relics were obtained, including a silver clasp and a coin of Emperor Hadrian.

“About 20m southeast, the second dugout No.17 was found, from which more than half-a-thousands artefacts have been documented.

“Reservoir No.12 proved to be very effective as well, as it reached 313cm deep from the discovery level.”

In total, the excavation has uncovered 2,875 artefacts, including an arrowhead, needle and brooches or fibulas.

Unfortunately, the hunt for the medieval cemetery continues as the archaeologists have failed to locate it.

Emperor Hadrian, born Publius Aelius Hadrianus in Italy in the first century AD, ruled from 117 to 138 AD, when he died at the age of 62.

The emperor is perhaps best known for leaving his imprint on Roman Britain, having built the famous Hadrian’s Wall in northern England.

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Hadrian’s Wall, also known as the Roman Wall or Picts’ Wall, served as a defensive fortification that ran from the banks of the River Tyne to the Irish Sea.

Construction of the ambitious project began in 122 AD, and significant portions of the wall still stand today.

According to English Heritage, the wall stood as the frontier of the Roman empire in the northwest for nearly 300 years.

From one end to the other, the wall measured 80 Roman miles in length – about 73 miles.

Hadrian’s Wall was made a World Heritage Site in 1987.

English Heritage said: “Hadrian came to Britain in AD 122 and, according to a biography written 200 years later, ‘put many things to right and was the first to build a wall 80 miles long from sea to sea to separate the barbarians from the Romans’.

“The building of Hadrian’s Wall probably began that year, and took at least six years to complete.

“The original plan was for a wall of stone or turf, with a guarded gate every mile and two observation towers in between, and fronted by a wide, deep ditch.”

Before the wall was completed, 14 Roman forts were built to house hundreds to possibly thousands of Roman soldiers.

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