Last-minute discoveries unearthed during an archaeological dig at Carlisle Cricket Club show the site is of national significance, says an expert.

Volunteers and archaeologists were left stunned as the last day of the project this week saw them uncover a fantastically preserved series of bath-house drains and an inscription stone bearing the name of elite Roman cavalry unit once based at nearby Stanwix.

The bath-house building found in the grounds of Carlisle Cricket Club was used by ala Petriana, the 1,000-strong unit that patrolled Hadrian's Wall.

“This site has just been stunning,” said Frank Giecco, from the Wardell Armstrong archaeology firm which supervised the dig, helped by volunteers.

“As the dig was coming to an end, we found one of the main drains that came out of the bath-house itself and the quality of the building is beautiful. We also found a tiny bit of a road, with huge kerbstones and cobbles.

“But on Saturday we also found another inscription stone.

“The early translation shows it's about ala Petriana – the first one ever found in Carlisle that mentions the cavalry regiment. We also found that one of the walls we uncovered which we'd thought was external is actually internal.

“So the bath-house carries on further than we thought.

“It all shows that the site is far more extensive than we first thought and these finds reinforce how significant this building was. Judging by the interest we've already had from academics it's a find that is of national interest.”

History lovers in the city say that the Edenside site should be turned into a permanent attraction celebrating Carlisle's rich Roman heritage. Among the early finds was an inscription stone to the Roman Empress Julia Domna.