MURDER MOST FOUL AT HADRIAN's WALL
THE savage murder of a small child at a Roman fort has become Britain's oldest cold case to be successfully solved: 1,800 years after the murder, according to British news reports.
Detective work began when archaeologists unearthed a hastily buried skeleton, the arms tied together, under a legionnaires' barracks at Hadrian's Wall, said a report in the Daily Express.
After two years of research, it has emerged the victim was a 10-year-old child, possibly a girl and probably a slave sent to the Roman Empire's most northerly outpost from North Africa in about 213 AD.
The child's sex cannot be confirmed but experts think it was a girl and have named her Georgie. She died after being hit over the head with a heavy object.
It is believed up to eight legionnaires from one of the most feared units in the Roman Army, the Fourth Cohort of Gauls from what is now France, whose trademark in battle was to scalp their victims, were involved in the child's killing.
"It's the French that did it," said Dr Trudi Buck, a Durham University biological anthropologist who has pieced together Georgie's tragic story.
"This child’s death is sad and horrible. It shows human nature does not change, we still get crimes like this today."
Dr Buck, who has helped British police on recent murder investigations, says it is impossible to say why Georgie was murdered.
All eight soldiers living in the barracks, a stone building about half the size of a modern house, must have helped cover up the crime, said Dr Buck.
Georgie was naked when dumped in the shallow grave, the position the bones were found in suggests her arms were tied in front of her.
Andrew Birley, director of excavations at Vindolanda, a Roman complex on the wall in Northumberland where Georgie's remains are now on show, said: "There is no way that everyone in the barracks did not know what had gone on."
"They would all have to have been compliant, if not in the crime, then certainly in the cover-up.
"There were strict rules at the time about not burying bodies within settlements but they could never have got the body past the checkpoints at the gates so they were stuck. If they could have got rid of the remains they would have."