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Important Roman altar stone unearthed at Maryport

The excavation at Camp Farm is being led by Professor Ian Haynes, of Newcastle University with leading field archaeologist Tony Wilmott. 

Jane Laskey with the altar [Credit: News and Star]
The site is internationally famous as the place where 17 altar stones found in 1870 - they are now on display in the museum at the town’s Senhouse Roman Museum. 

Many stones would have made up the altar which was used in worship and Professor Haynes believes that the Maryport ditch could have been dug to enclose a sacred space, but he said further evidence is needed. 

Fragments of Roman pottery found in the ditch are all Antonine or later, suggesting the ditch was filled up in the late second or early third centuries AD. 

This newest stone is 22 cm high and 12cm wide and was found 75cm below the ground surface in a Roman ditch. Jane Laskey, curator of the Senhouse Roman Museum said she was excavating the ditch with a student from Newcastle University when they made the discovery. 

She said: “This is a very exciting find for me because of my close connection with the collection, but it is an achievement for the whole team. 

“I have already been through the museum collection to find a similar altar fragment, but this looks like evidence for another completely different altar existing at Maryport.” 

Maryport is now part of the 150 mile Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. 

Senhouse Museum Trust has commissioned the excavation and provided funding of £50,000 towards the total cost of the work. The team will excavate through to July 20. 

Any new discoveries, together with the present displays in the Senhouse Roman Museum, will go into the new heritage development planned for Camp Farm - Roman Maryport. This is being developed in by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage and the Senhouse Museum Trust. Camp Farm is owned by Hadrian’s Wall Heritage. 

Local people are being given the opportunity to visit the excavation site. Those who want to see it should first go to Senhouse Roman Museum. 

Author: Linzi Watson | Source: News and Star [July 02, 2011]


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