Newly Discovered Pottery Fragment Offers Evidence of Christian Settlement In Roman London

A volunteer spotted the shard while sorting through hundreds of pieces of broken pottery found in the 1970s. Photograph: Museum of London
A volunteer spotted the shard while sorting through hundreds of pieces of broken pottery found in the 1970s. Photograph: Museum of London

Shard inscribed with chi rho symbol found near Thames in Brentford will go on display for first time at Museum of London

A piece of broken pottery, newly identified 40 years after it was found as important evidence of an early Christian community in Roman London, is going on display for the first time at the Museum of London, over the Easter weekend.

A sharp-eyed volunteer, sorting through hundreds of pieces of pottery shards found in the 1970s in an excavation on Brentford High Street, west London, noticed one fragment inscribed with the chi rho, the first two letters of Christ in the Greek alphabet, which was a common symbol in the early Christian church.

The pottery was made in Oxfordshire in the 4th century, rather than imported, so the symbol suggests a very early Thames-side Christian community.

Adam Corsini, the archaeology collections manager, said it was a very rare find. “Although we can’t say from one object that Roman London and its hinterland were practising Christianity, it does suggest that Christians were at least present at some point in 4th-century Roman Brentford.

“Christian symbols from the Roman period are rare, especially from sites within Londinium’s surrounding hinterland, and there are only a few examples in our collections relating to London.”

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SOURCE: The Guardian