Garden trough turns out to be Roman coffin worth 100,000

A trough used by a retired Northumberland couple to hold plants in their garden has been identified as a 2,000-year-old Roman sarcophagus.

The Roman coffin was used as a planter for 30 years for heather and bedding plants. It is now found to be worth more than the actual house they live in.

The 6ft 9ins long coffin, which has a central panel carved with the Three Graces, was left behind in the back garden by the previous owners.

The one-ton trough has now been identified as a rare ornate Roman sarcophagus from the 1st and 2nd century AD. Made from Carrara marble, it would have been commissioned for the funeral of a wealthy woman and placed in a private mausoleum in Rome.

The retired couple are selling it at Duke’s auction house in Dorchester, Dorset, after learning it had sold a sarcophagus last year.

Guy Schwinge, of Dukes, said: “It dawned on them that they had something that looked rather similar on the far side of their lawn.”

“They emailed me some pictures and after I saw them I got on the next flight to Newcastle.

“I found it sat on the grass, filled with plants, and it was quite obvious to me that it was indeed a Roman Imperial sarcophagus, dating from the 1st or 2nd century AD.

“It is quite exceptional for a something of this importance to turn up unrecognised in a garden.”

Author: Philip Woods

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