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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dig Reveals Even More Secrets of Roman Mayport

An even more fascinating picture is emerging of Roman Maryport as excavations reach the halfway point.

The team had already identified at least one “monumental structure” on the hilltop which overlooks the Roman fort and the Senhouse Museum.

But now archaeologists believe that they have found evidence of more than one structure, some of which would have been supported by gigantic timber pillars.

Professor Ian Haynes of Newcastle University, who is leading the excavation, said that a lot of interesting features were coming up under the trowel.

But he was not prepared to “float any hypotheses” about what the structures had been -at least not yet. He said: “We have a lot of features and suggestions of not one but multiple structures coming through.

“What is crucial from an archaeological point of view is that we can see different features inter-cutting one another.”

A closer investigation of how these features relate to one another will help experts to establish a “sequence” or chronology for the site.

At present, archaeologists don’t know which of the structures actually came first.

Prof Haynes said that the picture emerging now appeared much more “complex” than it appeared on the basis of the 2011 excavations.

“What I’m seeing in terms of character and complexity is more exciting,” he said.

However, the excavations have been somewhat hampered by rainfall.

A certain amount of moisture on the ground can make it easier to spot remains but too much can destroy archaeological evidence and delay a dig.

“We are very much at the mercy of the elements,” he added.

Meanwhile, the next crop of volunteers were yesterday gearing up for the excavations.

Graham Ryan, 67, of Beckfoot was also at last year’s Maryport dig and has been involved in excavations at the Roman fort and also the settlement of Vindolanda. He said: “Everybody is excited and perhaps we will know the full story this year.”

Last year’s excavation helped debunk an age-old myth when the team proved beyond doubt that the Roman altars found on the site had not been buried as part of a religious ritual but had been used in the foundation of the hilltop structures now being investigated.

The Senhouse Roman Museum Trust and Newcastle University started the second year of excavation of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust-owned Camp Farm last month.

The Trust-funded excavation is understood to be costing between £60,000 and £100,000.

Source: New and Star 


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