Garden find Roman sarcophagus realises $62,000 in UK auction

A Roman sarcophagus recently discovered in a UK garden has sold at auction after attracting much media attention.

Roman sarcophagus found garden auction
Could this have once been housed in Rome's Palazzo Accoramboni?



The exciting find sold for £40,000 ($61,824), comfortably within its £30,000-50,000 estimate. The same auction house previously sold a similar Roman marble coffin, which brought an impressive £96,000 ($153,766) in October 2012, and led to the present discovery.

After reading reports of the 2012 sale, a Northumberland man noticed that there was something similar lying at the end of his garden. Recognising its potential value, he then contacted the auction house's Guy Schwinge, who  soon established that they were dealing with an Imperial Roman sarcophagus that dates to the 1st or 2nd century AD, likely created under the rule of Hadrian.

It is thought that it had been moved to Northumberland, UK in 1969, when the house's previous owners moved from a substantial country estate in the Lake District. Further research revealed that it was brought from Rome in 1902 by the Common Shipping family, relations of the former Lake District residents.

1902 was the same year that president of the Atlantic Coastline Railroad Henry Walters paid an unprecedented $1m for the contents of the Palazzo Accoramboni gallery in Rome and, while it is impossible to connect the two, it is known that among Walters' purchase included several sarcophagi from the Calpurnii Pisones family.

The tomb itself is wonderfully carved, featuring a central panel of the Three Graces, suggesting that it was made for a wealthy individual. Its plainly hewn back indicates that it was intended as an addition to a private mausoleum.

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