Pugliaindifesa Historical monuments Roman marble bust found under Burghley parking lot

Roman marble bust found under Burghley parking lot

Craig Crawley with the head of the sculpture.

A Roman marble sculpture of the head of a woman has been discovered during construction in the parking lot of Burghley House, the stately home near Stamford in Lincolnshire built by the Cecil family in the 16th century. The head of a sculpture was unearthed by mechanical digger operator Craig Crawley in April of 2023. Two weeks later the marble bust the head used to be attached to was found.

1710225653 103 Roman marble bust found under Burghley parking lot | PugliaindifesaAfter being cleaned, experts dated the sculpture from the First or Second Century, with an iron dowel added later, allowing it to be attached to a bust or pedestal.

This type of adaptation was often carried out by Italian dealers in antiquities during the late 18th Century to make excavated ancient fragments more attractive to aristocrats travelling in Italy on what was known as the Grand Tour.

It is believed that it was during one of the ninth Earl’s two tours to Italy in the 1760s, when he purchased many antiquities, that he brought the sculpture back to Burghley.

Nobody knows how the head escaped from the house and would up buried where the car park was later built. The two parts were examined by the curator of Burghley’s collection and then transferred to a professional conservator for cleaning and reassembly.

1710225653 46 Roman marble bust found under Burghley parking lot | PugliaindifesaThe head and the bust have now been conserved and reassembled. The sculpture will be on display on the dramatic Hell Staircase (named after the Baroque inferno painted on the walls and ceiling by Antonio Verrio in the 1690s) at Burghley House when it reopens for the season on March 16th. It will join other sculptures acquired by the ninth Earl during his travels.

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