A child’s grave and pits full of bone shards, tooth enamel, bead necklaces and Roman roofing have been discovered in the massive archaeological dig which has turned Camp Farm, in Maryport, into a hotbed of Roman finds this summer.
The westernmost pit at the Cumbria site has been revealed as a long cist grave. Its stone lining is typical of burials at the end and shortly after the Roman era in the west of Europe and southern Scotland.
“We’re discovering new things on an almost daily basis which are giving us new insights into what happened on this site across hundreds of years,” said Tony Wilmot, the site director.
“What we think we’re looking at is a Christian cemetery close to a sequence of Christian religious buildings. Read more.
The altar, discovered by Beckfoot volunteer John Murray, has lain buried for up to 1,600 years.
Tony Wilmott, site director of the Maryport excavation, said that it was the most exciting find he had known in 42 years as an archaeologist and 25 years working on Hadrian’s Wall.
He said: “I bought a bottle of whisky at the Birdoswald dig 25 years ago and offered it to the first person to find something like this.
“This time, the whisky went to John Murray.”
The excitement started soon after 9am on Wednesday when Mr Murray, 68, who was also responsible for finding a hoard of Roman coins a couple of years ago, was working in a pit previously excavated in Victorian times.
He said: “There was a lot of rock around and I noticed a piece with a line on it. I thought it might be a piece of something.”
He called Mr Wilmott and the two men carefully uncovered it. Read more.
A team of archaeologists, students and volunteers led by Newcastle University’s Professor Ian Haynes and Tony Wilmott has returned to continue excavations at the site of a massive ancient timber complex associated with the 2nd century Roman military fort complex in Maryport near the coast of northwestern Britain.
Part of the groundplan of the timber structure (or structures) was unearthed in 2011, raising questions and providing new clues related to the discovery of Roman altar stones uncovered there over 140 years ago.
Said Haynes: “Until last year’s excavation it was accepted by Roman scholars worldwide that the 17 Maryport altar stones excavated in 1870 at the site - Britain’s largest cache of Roman altars - had been buried as part of a religious ceremony. It turns out they were re-used in the foundations of a large Roman timber building or buildings.” Read more.
A series of dramatic discoveries made at Camp Farm in Maryport will rewrite the history books.
Experts originally believed that a unique cache of 17 altars, discovered in 1870, were buried as part of a religious ritual.
But this year’s excavations have debunked this age-old myth and proved beyond doubt that the they were re-used as part of the foundation of a huge building, possibly a temple.
Post-holes unearthed on the site indicate the presence of a massive timber building supported by thick pillars that would have made today’s telephone poles look puny.
Professor Ian Haynes, excavation director, said: “We can say we have basically destroyed the myth that’s been running for decades and that’s gratifying. Read more.
A historically important Roman altar stone has been discovered by archeologists digging in Maryport.
The excavation at Camp Farm is being led by Professor Ian Haynes, of Newcastle University with leading field archaeologist Tony Wilmott.
The site is internationally famous as the place where 17 altar stones found in 1870 - they are now on display in the museum at the town’s Senhouse Roman Museum.
Many stones would have made up the altar which was used in worship and Professor Haynes believes that the Maryport ditch could have been dug to enclose a sacred space, but he said further evidence is needed.
Fragments of Roman pottery found in the ditch are all Antonine or later, suggesting the ditch was filled up in the late second or early third centuries AD.
This newest stone is 22 cm high and 12cm wide and was found 75cm below the ground surface in a Roman ditch. Jane Laskey, curator of the Senhouse Roman Museum said she was excavating the ditch with a student from Newcastle University when they made the discovery. Read more.
Experts from Newcastle University are to begin excavating an internationally important Roman site in Cumbria.
The archaeological team is focusing on the site of a major discovery of Roman altars 141 years ago.
The site where the 17 altars were found now forms part of the Roman Maryport site at Camp Farm, which is owned by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage.
It is hoped the dig, which will continue into July, will shed light on the nature of religion at the time.
Project leader, Prof Ian Haynes said: “The Maryport altars have been at the center of international debate about the nature of religion in the Roman army for decades. Read more.