Saturday, September 4, 2010

Roman gold in Cumbria

From The Guardian, August 17 2010

Roman gold in Cumbria,
by Martin Wainwright

Archaeologists believe that coins, jewellery and pottery found at a site on the edge of Cockermouth may point to a buried amphitheatre, which would be the most northerly in the Roman Empire. A dig currently under way, after floodwater unearthed an initial stash of material, has discovered a very large wooden structure.

Ground surveys before the month-long excavation pointed to unexpectedly complex remains, separate from the fort of Derventio whose traces remain at the village of Pabcastle, near Cockermouth. Mark Green of Grampus Heritage, which is supervising the dig with North Pennines Archaeology said: "We don't yet know exactly what to expect but these are exciting times.

"If it is an amphitheatre, it will be a massive discovery for the area. Nobody knew that this particular site was used by the Romans but after the floods and a series of discoveries, we had to take a look.

"The building may alternatively have had residential or agricultural use, but in any event, it shows that the Romans who lived here felt it was safe enough to live outside the Papcastle settlement. It would also mean that Derventio was bigger than anyone could have expected."

Roman finds have been a major boost to other parts of northern England, notably along Hadrian's Wall and its outstations, which include Glannaventa naval base at Ravenglass, on the Cumbrian coast, whose 12ft-high walls are among the highest Roman remains in Britain.

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