A marble flowerpot discovered in the gardens of Blenheim Palace has turned out to be a Roman coffin.
The flowerpot has been used for the last century to display tulips at Sir Winston Churchill’s birthplace in Oxfordshire. Previously, the flowerpot was used as a water feature, when it was purchased by the 5th Duke of Marlborough during the 19th Century. The antique was discovered when the palace had some insurance valuation work carried out. One of the experts had spotted the container, which is 6ft 6in long, and realised that it was a Roman sarcophagus, possibly worth around £300,000.
Upon further investigation, the experts believe that the basin dates back to 300AD. It has carvings that depict Dionysian revelry, with a drunken Dionysus, who is the god of wine, and a woodland god who is known as ‘satyr’. The sarcophagus is thought to be 1,800 years old, and has been restored to its former glory by experts, and insured. Rather than continuing to be used as a flower pot, the antique is now beneath Blenheim Palace in an underground room.
According to Guy Schwinge, auctioneer, a similar sarcophagus was sold in 2013 for £100,000 when it was found being used as a flower pot. He believes that this one could be worth far more, as it is connected with Blenheim Palace. Schwinge also believes that the sarcophagus was made for a member of the patrician elite, which may also add value.
Although it is unlikely that collectors will discover an item like this at an antiques store, they will certainly come across other high end antiques, like antique coffee tables, which will enhance the décor in any home.
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