A series of graves found in a gravel quarry at Stanway near Colchester, Essex, have been dated to 40-60 A.D. At least one of the burials, it appears, may have been that of a Druid, according to a report published in British Archaeology.
Within the wooden, chambered burial site, researchers have excavated a wine warmer, cremated human remains, a cloak pinned with brooches, a jet bead, divining rods (for fortune-telling), a series of surgical instruments, a strainer bowl last used to brew Artemisia-containing tea, a board game carefully laid out with pieces in play, as well as other objects.
The surgical kit found in the grave includes iron and copper alloy scalpels, a surgical saw, hooks, needles, forceps and probes.
The board game and its arranged pieces, however, are anything but common. None other like it has ever been found at Roman-era sites in Great Britain.
Surviving metal corners and hinges from the board allowed [Mike] Pitts to reconstruct it as an 8-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Raised sides suggest dice might have been used. The white and blue glass counters were positioned with care. Some were straight across the sides, another in a diagonal line and one white marker close to the board’s center.
Pitts believes the game may have been another “divination tool,” along with the rods, jet bead and scent bottles also excavated at Stanway.
Philip Crummy, director of the Colchester Archaeological Trust, told Discovery News that the person in the burial could very well have been a Druid “given the healing and divination attributes — assuming that Druids could be trained in these skills.”
He is, however, not yet convinced the person was Celtic, since the medical kit was “fairly Romanized” and the individual may have acted “like a Roman surgeon/doctor would have done.”
“Divination was widely practiced in the Roman world too,” he added.