England’s ‘Pompeii of the North’ Yields New Roman Treasures, Including Earliest Evidence of Christianity in Britain


An archaeological site that’s known as England’s “Pompeii of the North” has yielded a fresh batch of Roman treasures from the third century, including a silver ring that provides the earliest evidence of Christianity in Britain. The ring is set with a tiny stone that bears the carvings of an anchor and two fish — symbols that early Christians used before Emperor Constantine embraced the faith in the fourth century.

The Binchester site is located in County Durham, north of London. During Roman times, a fort and settlement known as Vinovia stood there. Archaeologists are in their sixth year of excavations, and they compare Binchester to Italy’s Pompeii because the artifacts are so well-preserved. Other finds that were brought to light this week include an altar dedicated to the Roman goddess Fortune, and a bathhouse with 7-foot-high walls that were once covered with brightly colored designs. Last year, a student working at Binchester found a carved stone head that’s thought to depict a Roman-Celtic god. There’ll be guided tours of the site this weekend.

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