Cracked shells released overpowering ‘potent stench’
Archaeologists accidentally broke three Roman eggs that had been going off for 1,700 years.
The excavators unearthed a basket of four chickens’ eggs in a waterlogged pit during a dig in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.
Three of the eggs cracked, releasing an overpowering “potent stench”, however the team managed to preserve the fourth one – making it the only complete Roman chicken’s egg found in Britain.
Experts from Oxford Archaeology think the waterlogged pit may have been used as a sort of Roman wishing well.
Stuart Foreman, dig project manager, said: “There’s a very good reason it’s the first and only find in the UK.”
He added: “In a pit that has been waterlogged for thousands of years you get things that would never survive in a dry environment.
“But it’s incredible we even got one out. They were so fragile.”
Alongside the eggs were dozens of coins, shoes, wooden tools and a “very rare” basket.
Edward Biddulph, who spent three years analysing the find, added: “Passers-by would have perhaps stopped to throw in offerings to make a wish for the gods of the underworld to fulfil.
“The Romans associated eggs with rebirth and fertility, for obvious reasons.
“We have found chicken bones and broken eggshells in Roman graves in Britain before, but never a complete egg.”