A NEW book is shedding fresh light on Roman Winchester.

The book – The Roman Cemeteries and Suburbs of Winchester – will be launched at a reception at Abbey House next Tuesday, November 20.

The book, produced by the city council, is the result of archaeological digs in the city between 1971 and 1986.

It tells about life in Winchester some 1,600-2,000 years ago, long before King Alfred was even a twinkle in his ancestors’ eyes, and when nobody spoke English.

Some of the things that Romano-Brits did are unfathomable to the modern mind - why cut someone’s head off with a knife after they were dead, so that it could be put in their grave by their knees?

More familiar, perhaps, are the signs on peoples’ skeletons of an indulgent lifestyle with a diet that was too rich in protein.

Helen Rees, curator of archaeology for Winchester Museums, said: “This kind of careful data collection and research is so useful for we curators, because it helps us to tell the story of Winchester’s wonderful heritage in lots of different ways - from events like Toga Tots for the under fives in the City Museum, to helping students with their PhD projects.”

The research and publication costs of the book have been funded by English Heritage.

Councillor Patricia Stallard, city council portfolio holder for culture, heritage and sport said: “I’m delighted that partnership working with English Heritage has made it possible to publish this handsome volume, and make sure that Winchester’s famous archaeology stays firmly on the map”.