This is ‘Thought for the Day’, broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on April 19th,2016
When I was eight years old, a large Roman villa was discovered close to our Primary School After lessons we would run across the fields to watch the archaeologists at work. Our teachers warned us us not to pilfer souvenir items from the diggings....and I didn’t. But one of my pals did manage to acquire several Roman tiles – and he gave me one of them, which I still keep in my box of tricks from schoolboy days. I decided to become an archaeologist when I grew up.
That never happened, but I’m still fascinated by what we can know - and indeed never know - about those who lived before us. That’s while I love the museum at Meigle in Angus which preserves those famous Pictish stones, with their exquisite carvings and strange symbols. Who on earth were these people who created and cherished them - and where are they now?
My feeling of excitement returned when I learned that another Roman villa has recently been discovered near Tisbury in Wiltshire. First an exquisite mosaic come to light , and then the remains a large country mansion from about 200 AD. Coins and mosaics have been discovered – there’s lots more to come – but to me the most moving discovery that a trough, which was already being used to grow geraniums - was in fact a child’s coffin. Who remembers that child? And who on earth was he – or indeed she?
Who on earth, or could we say ‘Who in heaven? The Christian answer is that God remembers children like that – and indeed all of us, because past and present are caught up in the in mysterious network of his love. For many, of course, that sounds like wishful thinking – a misguided refusal to face the cruel reality of time and decay.
One thing IS certain. The nameless child laid to rest in the coffin that came to be filled with geraniums wasn’t nameless to those who loved and buried her. To them she was precious, and maybe. Just maybe, she still is.