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Friday, 19 December 2014

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Bid relaunched to create Roman visitor centre in Maryport

Maryport's Roman history has been given a double boost as a major dig comes to an end and plans for a multi-million pound visitor centre are back on the table.

Maryport Roman dig photo
David Maron, of Oxford Archaeology North, helps Flimby School pupils Oliver Longstaff and Chloe Pape to sift through the earth

The eight-week archaeological dig, which ended yesterday at the town’s Camp Farm, has produced a range of exciting finds including the remains of six Roman buildings and a road.

And an announcement has been made that plans for a £7 million Roman visitor centre in the town have been re-launched – but £2.5m has to be raised locally.

Hadrian’s Wall Trust wants to press on with its proposals for the attraction at Camp Farm. The Heritage Lottery Fund has earmarked £4.5m for the scheme, but the trust has to find the rest of the cash.

Nigel Mills, trust director, said recent excavations of a civilian settlement around the Roman fort and of the fort itself had proved Maryport’s value as an important Roman site on the west coast.

He said the trust was continuing in its efforts to develop plans that were halted when funding could not be found in the wake of the recession.

He has urged Allerdale council, the county council, town council and regeneration organisations to get behind plans for the visitor centre, which he said would have huge economic benefits for the area.

Meanwhile the dig at Camp Farm, which came to an end this week, has been hailed a success.

The civilian settlement is the largest known on the Hadrian’s Wall frontier and is next to the farm’s Roman fort.

This dig was commissioned by the Hadrian’s Wall Trust and funded by philanthropist Christian Levett.

Oxford Archaeology North, of Lancaster, carried out the dig, assisted by volunteer and trainee excavators.

Stephen Rowland, project manager for Oxford Archaeology North said: “The building we’ve spent most time looking at might have been a shop at some point. It is stone-built, with several rooms, some with flagged floors.

“The reason we think it may have been a shop is the fact there isn’t a stone wall at the end facing the road. Instead, there could have been a booth-like timber frontage, or perhaps double doors that have long since rotted away. This kind of construction has been found at other sites.”

Other small finds from inside the building include glass beads, remains of pots for processing food, and glass vessels.

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