IT HAS remained a mystery for almost 150 years but yesterday the face of the region's only Roman skeleton was revealed for the first time.
Leasowe Man was discovered by a worker digging a ditch in 1864 and had lain in storage at the Natural History Museum in London ever since.
But facial anthropologists have now rebuilt his head with technology used by police forensic teams.
They took laser images of the fragile skull to make a cast then built up the muscle tissue layer by layer from clay.
Yesterday it went on display to the public at the Museum of Liverpool Life.
Dr Caroline Williamson, who led the reconstruction team at the University of Manchester, said: "It's fascinating to be able to put a face to a piece of history.
"The face of Leasowe Man is very striking.
"We created a replica skull from laser images and then began to build up the muscles one by one before putting the skin layer on.
"We all have the same muscles so we know the points of origin of them.
"It's the skull shape that makes faces different. From all the research that has been carried out, we can work out the length of the nose and the position of the eyeballs.
"What we have more difficulty with is the shape of the ears and the upper lip.
"His skin tone and hair colour were worked out by the archaeologists, using their knowledge of what would be most likely at the time of his death.
"The model itself was made out of clay and took about two days to complete. It's been a very exciting project."
Leasowe Man was discovered by labourer Thomas Wilson who was working on an embankment near Leasowe Castle in Wirral.
He thought he had found a rusty saucepan and continued to hack away with his pick and shovel, damaging the skeleton.
But once he realised what he had discovered, he told his supervisor who informed castle owner Sir Edward Cust.
He had the remains taken to London where they eventually ended up in storage at the Natural History Museum.
Experts believe he dates back to the third or fourth century AD and worked outdoors, most likely dying in his 30s.
His remains and the reconstructed head have now gone on display as part of the museum's Living with the Romans exhibition, which runs until December.
Dr Rob Philpott, exhibition curator, said: "He is our oldest resident and the only Romano-British one so we really wanted to bring him back for the exhibition.
"Because he is so important, we wanted to really show his character and personality.
"Most skulls look the same unless you are an expert so we wanted to personalise him.
"We can work out a lot about him from the marks on his bones. He would have worked outside and was not a rich man.
"He will be returned to the Natural History Museum once the exhibition ends.
"It is 141 years since he was last here but we hope to bring him back sooner than that next time."
... a photo accompanies the original article.