Take this article for example. Under a head line of Girl 'murdered' by Roman soldiers in north Kent it purports to be an explanation of a corpse found in the UK and some of the quotes are telling;
"She was killed by a Roman sword stabbing her in the back of the head," said Dr Paul Wilkinson, director of the excavation.How does he he know it was a Roman sword unless the weapon was still in the wound? Granted a gladius has a characteristic shape but its not a unique shape. Furthermore, how does he know the killing weapon was wielded by a Roman?
"By the position of the entry wound she would have been kneeling at the time."
Dr Wilkinson said that she had been between 16 and 20 years old when she was killed, and her bones suggested that she had been in good health.So she was over 13 and therefore wasn't a girl at all. By the age of 20 she would have been considered a mature adult woman.
He also believes the body had then been dumped in what looked like a hastily dug grave.
Dr Wilkinson said the body was found with some fragments of iron age pottery which would date the grave to about AD50, and suggest that she was part of the indigenous population.And would 'murdering' Roman's generally take ethnic burial considerations into account?
Another indication of her origin, according to Dr Wilkinson, is the orientation of the body.
Romans buried their bodies lying east-west, whereas this body was buried north-south, as was the custom for pagan graves.
Many people have a romantic view of the Roman invasion, Dr Wilkinson said.I'm amazed at this apparent sense of self importance. Roman history is packed full of examples of how Roman armies treated their enemies, and how local populations were treated also. The Roman's themselves made no secret of their severity. Yet this historian, throwing out bold assumptions with no scientific reserve, would have us believe that this single corpse of a dead woman tells us something unique about Rome?
"Now, for the first time, we have an indication of how the Roman armies treated people, and that large numbers of the local populations were killed.
"It shows how all invading armies act the same throughout history. One can only imagine what trauma this poor girl had to suffer before she was killed," he said.It seems Dr Paul Wilkinson can imagine a lot! Far too much for his own credibility as a scientist. He has taken the nameless corpse of an unknown woman, whose reason for death has no evident explanation and turned it into a child victim of Roman brutality. He offers no evidence that the woman was a Briton, no evidence that she was killed by a Roman, no evidence that she was killed by an invading army, no evidence she was murdered, as opposed to say, being an executed criminal.
The explanation for Wilkinson's romantic notions seems evident in his own words, "how all invading armies act the same throughout history". This man is pandering to a preconception. He has fabricated a neat little tragedy to explain his corpse in a manner which fits with his own romantic assumptions.