Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Council's Christian artefact 'not ancient'

  • Comment
Somerset County Council has virtually confirmed that an amulet worn by the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the ancient Christian artefact it was believed to be.

The silver amulet was unearthed on 15 July 1990 during excavations along Fosse Lane in Shepton Mallet.

It was found in the grave of a male aged between 30 and 50 in a small, late Roman cemetery.

The front of the 45mm disc is marked with the ‘ChiRho’; an early Christian symbol incorporating the first two letters of

Christ's name in Greek, which are similar to our modern day letters ‘X’ and ‘P’.

It was these markings that initially led archaeologists to believe that they had stumbled across an extremely rare Christian artefact, generating great excitement on a local and international scale.

Somerset County Council has recently provided authorisation for further tests to be conducted on the amulet.

New technology has enabled experts at the University of Liverpool to analyse the composition of the amulet in more detail than was previously possible.

Two samples of metal taken from the amulet have been analysed by Dr Ponting and were found to be inconsistent with Roman

silver, but are consistent with silver produced in the nineteenth century or later.

Stephen Minnitt, Somerset County Council's Acting Head of Museums, said: "Experts are now ‘99% certain’ that the amulet is not genuine, and it is possible that we may never be able to say with certainty how it came to be buried in Shepton Mallet."

Justin Robinson, Somerset County Council’s Portfolio Holder for Health & Well-Being, added: “Somerset County Council is

pleased that some of the mystery surrounding the Shepton Mallet amulet has been solved. We would be very interested to hear from anyone who can shed light on how the amulet came to be buried in Somerset.”

Councillor Margaret Robinson, local member for Shepton Mallet said: "Credit goes to those involved in the analysis of the amulet, whose expertise has uncovered new information about this local mystery.”

  • Comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.