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Sunday, 01 March 2015

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Circular building focus of Roman dig in Maryport

A circular building, which could be a second temple, is the focus of the fourth University of Newcastle dig at Maryport's Roman fort.

Maryport dig photo
Ian Haynes and Rachel Newman

The excavations have been commissioned by the Senhouse Museum Trust after archaeologists last year confirmed the remains of a rectangular building on the site was almost definitely a classic-type temple. It was, therefore, the most north westerly temple known in the Roman Empire.

Dig director, Professor Ian Haynes, said it was possible that the circular building next to it was a mausoleum of some kind, though he doubts it.

He said the structure closely resembles Arthur’s O’on, a circular Roman temple discovered in Scotland which was destroyed after being excavated.

Prof Haynes said he is also looking at ditches which he believes could provide “finds that might not seem spectacular but could provide us with vital information about how the Roman army and the civilian settlements attached to the forts lived.”

He said there is a lot of information about the Roman frontiers in the second and third centuries but very little in the fourth. “I am hoping these excavations will help us to solve some of the puzzle,” he said, as the dig was opened up to the media yesterday.

Senhouse trustee, Rachel Newman, said the idea is to put the museum’s internationally-renowned Roman altar collection into context.

The altars were found on site but appeared to be being used as building materials.

Heritage consultant and Hadrian’s Wall expert, Nigel Mills, said the excavations of the fort and civilian settlement in Maryport were important. “In fact the work being done all down the West Coast is of interest and is attracting more and more visitors,” he said.


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