Rare roman "planter" sells for £40,000

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A Roman coffin that used as a garden planter for 30 years has sold at auction for £40,000, according to the Telegraph.

The rare relic, which dates back to the first or second century AD, was unknowingly used by a Northumberland couple to hold their favourite plants.


The marble coffin dating back to went under the hammer at Henry Duke's in Dorset. An overseas dealer paid £40,000, plus a 19.5% buyers' premium for the relic.

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, according to the Daily Mail.

Its owners, who wished to remain anonymous, read about a similar tomb being discovered in a garden last year and contacted experts to verify the find.

Exceptional find
Following the discovery last month, 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.

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

The one-ton trough was 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.

It is almost identical to another Roman sarcophagus that is in the Galleria Lapidaria in the Vatican.

Valuable discovery
Other recent valuable finds in unexpected places include the discovery by an art teacher of a pre-Raphaelite bird portrait in her loft.

After discovering the painting of an owl while clearing space for a plumber, the teacher emailed Christies auction house who determined that the painting, titled "The White Owl," was created by pre-Raphaelite artist William James Webbe and worth £70,000.

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