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Roman dig begins in Maryport

Work began this week to try to unearth the mystery of a monumental structure which appears to have stood at the top of Maryport. 

Archaeologists working on the site last year [Credit: ITV]
The Senhouse Roman Museum Trust and Newcastle University have started the second year of excavation of the Hadrian’s Wall Trust-owned Camp Farm. 

Last year’s excavation turned history on its head when it was discovered that a cache of 17 altars, believed to have been buried as a religious ritual, may have been used as building material in the foundations of a large building. 

Professor Ian Haynes, excavation director and chair of archaeology at Newcastle University, said: “Last year we destroyed one story. Now we are finding another.” 

He said: “We have welcomed back some of the same team who gelled so well last year. We have a longer season and we are already about ten days ahead. It is exciting.” 

Site director Tony Wilmott, who was named archaeologist of the year last year, has returned to lead the team of volunteers who will work all summer. 

Jane Laskey, Senhouse museum curator, said the excavations last year resulted in a significant increase in visitor numbers and she expected an even greater impact this year. 

The Senhouse Trust has committed £60,000 to this year’s excavation. 

There has also been a £1,000 donation from the Mouswald Trust, and portable cabins have been donated by Thomas Armstrong Ltd. 

Work started days after Hadrian’s Wall Trust admitted that it had failed in its bid to obtain funding for its proposed Roman Maryport visitor and exhibition centre. 

Director Dr Nigel Mills said the trust was still committed to the project and the findings of the excavation could only help. 

Source: Times and Star [June 21, 2012]

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