Archaeologists are trying to identify a mystery carving of a naked horseman dug up at a Roman fort. The sandstone altar of a man holding a spear on either a donkey or a horse was found by two volunteers at Vindolanda, near Hexham, Northumberland.
It was found intact near a 4th Century cavalry barrack and it is believed to depict either the Gods Mars or Mercury, although there is no inscription. The artefact will be on display at the fort’s museum from Thursday.
Site archaeologist Marta Alberti is now piecing together clues to try to establish who the carving represents. Ms Alberti said: “We are looking at something we have never seen at Vindolanda before and we might not see again.
“The nakedness of the man means he is probably a god, rather than a mere cavalryman, he is also carrying a spear in his left arm, a common attribute of the god of war Mars.