Archaeological Project Manager Robin Jackson said: ‘When we first looked at the leg and arm bones, the muscle attachments suggested it was quite a strapping big bloke.
‘But the pelvis and head, and all the indicators of gender, say it’s a woman.’
He said one explanation could be that she was a female gladiator.
‘The coffin would have been made of wood – we haven’t got any of the wood left, but we’ve got the nails around the outside then three huge giant straps that run all the way around the coffin, and also bronze strips on the corners which would have probably strengthened it, but probably decorated it.
‘It’s quite an elaborate and probably a very expensive coffin, and yet the person in it looked like they had a hard working life, and so there’s an anomaly there.’