A rare find in Hounslow has thrown new light on the origins of Christianity in west London.
This fragment of pottery unearthed in Brentford is thought to be one of the earliest examples of Christian symbolism ever discovered in the capital.
The piece of Oxfordshire-produced pottery, believed to date from the fourth century AD, is inscribed with the Greek letters Chi (X) and Rho (P), the first two letters of the Greek Khristos Christ.
It is one of very few surviving examples of Christian symbolism from the Roman period, especially from within what was then Londinium and its surrounds.
The pottery was originally excavated in 1970 during excavations in Brentford High Street but its significance went unnoticed at the time.
Only after volunteers at the Museum of London's archaeological archive spotted it nearly 50 years later has it finally gone on display at the museum for the first time.
'This suggests Christians were present in fourth-century Roman Brentford'
Adam Corsini, the museum's archaeology collections manager, said: "At first we noticed there was some sort of mark on the pot and then quickly realised the significance of what we had.
"Christian symbols from the Roman period are rare, especially from sites within Londinium’s surrounding Hinterland and there are only a few examples within our collections relating to London.
"Although we can’t say from one object that Roman London and its Hinterland were practicing Christianity, it does suggest that Christians were at least present at some point in 4th Century Roman Brentford."
The 1970 excavation in Brentford was one of several in the town centre during road widening and rebuilding during the late sixties and seventies.
They revealed the line of the Roman road heading from what is now known as London to the west of Britain, providing fresh clues to Brentford's past.
Historians believe the town would have exploited the trade route between Londinium and Silchester, near Hampshire.
More than 100 coins, a dozen brooches jet jewellery and a spout for a bronze bowl in the shape of a dog were among the other artefacts found in the area during digs at the time.