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Mystery Roman dodecahedron found by Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group’s to appear on BBC2’s Digging for Britain with Professor Alice Roberts and go on display at the National Civil War Centre, Newark





A mysterious object unearthed by a community archaeology group is set to star in BBC2’s Digging for Britain today (Tuesday, Janaury 9).

Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group is to star in episode four of the channel’s flagship archaeology programme at 8pm, with Professor Alice Roberts who has returned for a new series.

Branded as “one of the most unusual discoveries ever made on Digging for Britain”, the object unearthed in Norton Disney during the group’s 2023 excavation is a rare Roman dodecahedron.

Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group secretary Richard Parker, Professor Alice Roberts and researcher Lorena Hitchens with the Roman dodecahedron..
Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group secretary Richard Parker, Professor Alice Roberts and researcher Lorena Hitchens with the Roman dodecahedron..

Group secretary Richard Parker said: “I was making the tea at the time. Th

ere's a big shout goes up, a bit of swearing and you think, oh somebody had an accident. So I go running over there and then Richard, who found it on site, was holding it up, oh my goodness me, you've found a dodecahedron. I've only read about those. I've never seen one.”

The hollow 12-sided objects have been found across Roman Europe’s northern and western provinces but never in Rome, nor are they mentioned in Roman literature, so their purpose or significance has been a topic of controversial debate in the archaeological world since the first one was discovered, and are said to have left archaeologists baffled.

The example discovered in Norton Disney is only the 33rd ever found in Britain.

The rare Roman dodecahedron found in Norton Disney will be featured on BBC2's Digging for Britain.
The rare Roman dodecahedron found in Norton Disney will be featured on BBC2's Digging for Britain.

Alice said: “I do love an archaeological mystery, and this has to be one of the greatest, most mysterious archaeological objects I've ever had the opportunity to look at it up close. It's just extraordinary.”

Researcher Lorena Hitchens studies the “bizarre objects” — which are skillfully cast from a copper alloy —and wants to find out if they are a tool or a ritual object or something else.

Theories around these items range from measuring devices and tools for wool craft, but Lorena thinks that the lack of size regulation or evidence of use rules these ideas out and so believes there may be some ritual or religious purpose to the dodecahedrons.

Professor Alice Roberts with the Roman dodecahedron.
Professor Alice Roberts with the Roman dodecahedron.
The Norton Disney find was just the 33rd in Britain.
The Norton Disney find was just the 33rd in Britain.

Norton Disney has long been know as a stronghold for Roman artifacts, with a Roman villa discovered outside the village in 1933.

The 2023 excavation by Norton Disney History and Archaeology Group, supported by Allen Archaeology, was their biggest excavation to date and discovered a pit that was filled with Roman pottery and demolition rubble as well as the dodecahedron.



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