The Hadrian’s Wall Trust has appointed Oxford Archaeology North, based in Lancaster to lead a second archaeological dig, the Roman Settlement Project, at Maryport this summer.
The Roman Settlement Project is funded by philanthropist Christian Levett who is also supporting a programme of excavation led by the British Museum at the Hadrian’s Villa world heritage site near Rome. He is the owner of the archaeological magazine Minerva and the Mougins Museum of Classical Art in France.
The dig at Maryport will be led by Oxford Archaeology North’s Stephen Rowland and John Zant, and will examine part of the Roman civilian settlement just north east of the Roman fort. Settlements associated with forts have been relatively little studied.
An application for scheduled monument consent will be made soon and subject to approval the excavation will take place during August and September, and again in summer 2014.
The Maryport civilian settlement is the largest currently known along the Hadrian’s Wall frontier. Geophysical surveys have revealed detailed information including lines of buildings, perhaps used as houses and shops, either side of the main street running from the north east gate of the fort.
The excavation should provide an excellent opportunity to examine the date, complexity and uses of these structures, as well as revealing aspects of the daily lives of the people who lived there.
The fort and settlement were a significant element of the coastal defences lining the north western boundary of the Roman Empire for more than 300 years.
This excavation is distinct from the Roman Temples Project which is currently taking place. The Temples Project has been commissioned by the Senhouse Roman Museum with in-kind support from Newcastle University, and is led by Professor Ian Haynes and Tony Wilmott. It is the third year the team has excavated at Maryport and is the start of a new phase in the five year programme, designed to learn more about the altars which form the core of the Senhouse Roman Museum display.
All the excavations are on land owned by the Hadrian’s Wall Trust at Camp Farm, the site of the proposed Roman Maryport heritage and visitor attraction, near to the Senhouse Roman Museum and part of the world heritage site.
Nigel Mills, director of world heritage and access for the Hadrian’s Wall Trust said: “This is a very exciting year for everyone interested in the world heritage site, with two separate and complementary excavations at Maryport.
“Maryport is an internationally recognised Roman site and has huge potential to extend our knowledge of the Roman frontier and to attract visitors to west Cumbria.
“The excavations are an important step towards the establishment of a long-term programme of archaeological research here, which is a key element in the development of Roman Maryport being taken forward in partnership by the Hadrian’s Wall Trust and the Senhouse Museum Trust.”
Details of volunteer opportunities for the Roman Settlement Project and arrangements for schools and visitors will be posted on the Hadrian’s Wall Trust’s website www.visithadrianswall.co.uk .
This year there is live archaeology at sites right across Hadrian’s Wall Country.
As well as the Maryport excavations there is a community archaeology project planned for the Roman civilian settlement in Ravenglass by the Lake District National Park Authority and Muncaster Parish Council, continuing excavation at Papcastle by Grampus Heritage and Training, continuing excavation at Vindolanda by the Vindolanda Trust, the Altogether Archaeology project in the Hadrian’s Wall area of the Northumberland National Park, and Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums’ community archaeology project WallQuest excavating in Newcastle and at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields.