A construction worker discovered a 1,800-year old Roman statue while digging up a parking lot of a 16th-century estate, per ABC News.

While driving a digger, one of the workers noticed what he initially thought was a big rock. When he turned it over, it had the face of a woman, per ABC News.

Several weeks later, the construction team found a bust that turned out to belong to the head, according to CNN. A conservator was then brought in to inspect the findings, who determined that the statue dated back to the first or second century.

Roman statues were all the rage in the 18th century

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the head dated back to Rome’s golden age known as the Pax Romana. But the bust was actually added centuries later.

The estate the statue was found on, Burghley House, shared that the practice of adding shoulders to Roman statue heads was common during the 18th century in Italy. It was an effort to look more attractive to traveling aristocrats that were participating in what was known as the Grand Tour.

The Grand Tour was considered a rite of passage for young English aristocrats, according to Royal Museums Greenwich. It normally took a year to complete, where the aristocrats (typically men) would leave England and make stops across Europe before arriving in Italy, the highlight of the trip. Many aristocrats took this as an opportunity to buy art souvenirs to display back home.

According to Katherine Gazzard, the curator of art at Royal Museums Greenwich, the aristocrats “were looking to spend money and buy mementos to prove they went on the trip.” This is what one of the owners of the Burghley House did.

The Burghley House

The Burghley House is a Tudor-era manor north of London, according to ABC News. It was built by William Cecil, an advisor to Elizabeth I, in the mid-16th century, per Smithsonian Magazine.

Over time it was passed from generation to generation until it reached Brownlow Cecil in the 18th century.

Brownlow Cecil took several tours to Italy during his time at the Burghley House, and it is believed this Roman statue found by construction workers was one of the his mementos he brought back with him, per Burghley House.

But no one is sure how that same statue got buried or why. The Burghley House shares that they do not know how long the statue had been underground, but theories range from a foiled burglary attempt to just being thrown out.

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