How I created Brucco's story

How I created Brucco's story

I made up this possible scenario based on the following clues:

 A male from Winchester, aged 18-25 years old;
Buried with no grave goods apart from a pair of hobnailed shoes outside the coffin and a blackburnished ware bowl and a flagon (food and drink for the journey);
Placed on his back (perhaps in a shroud) in a wooden coffin of which only 15 iron nails survive…

 His bones showed two things:
1) Schmorl’s nodes on spine, found in patients with pain often caused by sports or other repetitive stress injury = bad back
2) plaque and associated problems probably from lack of hygiene = bad breath
His isotopes show he is a local boy.

One archaeologist suggested: 'I wonder whether this could be the story of a young man, born and bred in Winchester. Winchester was the capital of the tribe of the Belgae, although I am not sure how important this aspect of his identity was after 300 years of Roman rule. Although a native Briton, this individual probably held Roman citizenship (all free individuals did in the later Empire). He would have noticed the influx of Germanic incomers with their flashy dress and official positions – he may have been a hard-working farmer or labourer in the city.'

 I thought it might be fun to make him someone who likes foreigners, maybe because they tell interesting stories.

 I was trying to think which jobs might have caused his bad back. While flipping through a book on Roman Britain I saw a relief of a man carrying an amphora. Barkeeper! I would make him a barkeeper.

 And he likes foreigners because they bring some interest into his life and spend money. And maybe he has a Greek doctor who brings him back relief and makes a mouthwash by adding perfume to wine (as the poet Martial tells us Romans sometimes did), so he can impress his girl.

 I was wondering what might have killed him. There is no trauma to his bones so he didn’t die in a fight or by falling or anything dramatic like that. Roman archaeologist Keith Hopkins once said a tube of antiseptic cream like Savlon would have been priceless in Roman times, when something as simple as a scratch from a nail might get infected and kill you. Then I thought it would be a nice ironic touch that a rusty nail killed him and nails are about all we have left of his grave goods.