The Hambledon Valley villa - a news update

20 Aug 2010

At there is an update to a story posted a couple of weeks ago about a Roman villa complex found in a field at Hambledon, between Marlow and Henley, in the valley of the Thames. Over 90 skeletons of newly born infants was found and they were boxed up by the excavator and deposited in Aylesbury Museum. They have recently seen the light of day and the story appeared on Alice Roberts hosted Digging for Britain BBC tv programme of August 19th, but the story broke some weeks ago. The babies, it was determined, were the unwanted offspring of prostitutes servicing a nearby Roman army base. However, that interpretation has now come under scrutiny as it looks as if at least one of the babies was dismembered - and according to Jill Eyers, there were signs of cut marks made by a knife. It now seems that ritual activity, the old standby of archaeologists, may become the explanation for so many skeletons of young babies. Further research on the bones should establish if dismemberment occurred on a more regular basis. Presumably, a native cult rather than a Roman one would be implicated, but there would still be difficulties as the Romans are on record as coming down heavily against human sacrifice and ritualised murder.