Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Wednesday 04 August |
Saint of the Day: St. John Vianney
home iconArt & Culture
line break icon

A Roman sarcophagus is discovered doing duty as flower pot

BNSP/The Telegraph

Zelda Caldwell - published on 03/30/17

An antiques expert spotted the ancient vessel, which was being used as a planter for over a century.

For the last 100 years visitors to Blenheim Palace, a historic country house (and birthplace of Winston Churchill) in Oxfordshire, England, may — or may not — have noticed what appeared to be a decorative planter on the estate’s grounds.

In fact, the marble vessel, which had been used to plant tulips, was no ordinary flower pot but a Roman sarcophagus dating back to the year 300, and worth more than $350,000, according to The Telegraph.

The discovery was made by an antiques expert who was inspecting the estate for insurance purposes, and happened to notice the treasure hiding in plain sight. According to the report, “the expert spotted the the sarcophagus out of the corner of his eye and made a beeline for it.”

Decorated with bas-relief carvings depicting Dionysian revelry, the piece was appreciated for its artistry even before its provenance was discovered. “We always thought it was a beautiful sculpture,” the estate’s house manager Kate Ballenger told The Telegraph, “but we were not aware of the fact it was a Roman sarcophagus.”

The ancient coffin was acquired by the 5th Duke of Marlborough about 200 years ago. Before it was put to use as a planter, it is said to have been part of “an elaborate water feature.”

It has now been restored and repaired, and is safely out of the elements and on display inside the palace, where palace officials hope it will remain “for centuries to come.”

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
Saint Mary of the Angels
Bret Thoman, OFS
All your sins will be forgiven if you go to a Franciscan church o...
2
Ignacio María Doñoro
Francisco Veneto
The military chaplain who pretended to be a criminal to rescue a ...
3
CARLO ACUTIS
Violeta Tejera
Carlo Acutis’ first stained glass window in jeans and sneak...
4
JEDZENIE
Theresa Civantos Barber
The one thing we all should do before this summer ends
5
Philip Kosloski
Most priests can’t absolve these sins
6
ANTENUCCI
Ary Waldir Ramos Diaz
1st Feast of Our Lady of Silence is August 1
7
Zelda Caldwell
World-record winning gymnast Simone Biles leans on her Catholic f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.