sábado, 24 de mayo de 2014

Roman Maryport: Revealing a more complex settlement (United Kingdom)

The Hadrian’s Wall Trust’s research and community archaeology project at the Maryport Roman settlement – directed by Oxford Archaeology North and funded by philanthropist Christian Levett – is revealing new evidence and raising more questions about the internationally famous site.

An earlier fort and lost harbour

Site director John Zant said: “We’re piecing together the complex story of the site over at least a couple of hundred years from around AD100 to AD300.
“From our work so far it’s possible there may be an earlier fort than the remains we can see in the next field, and possibly even a lost Roman harbour to the north of the present day harbour.
“The Maryport civilian settlement is the largest currently known along the Hadrian’s Wall frontier. We already know from geophysical surveys that there are lines of buildings here either side of the main street running from the north east gate of the fort.
“We’re concentrating on a building plot on the west side of the road. It’s possible the road linked the fort with a Roman harbour. If this were the case, the road would have been a bustling thoroughfare along which most of the people and goods arriving at Maryport would have travelled.
“We’ve found a fascinating variety of artefacts, including fragments of fine tableware imported from Gaul and the Rhineland, storage vessels that once contained Spanish olive oil and Gallic wines, fragments of fine glass vessels and several items of jewellery, including a jet finger-ring and part of a decorated glass bangle.
“The ring and bracelet would have been owned by quite well-off women, perhaps the wives and daughters of serving soldiers or retired veterans.”
Volunteers and professional archaeologists working at the Maryport site. Image: Hadrian’s Wall Trust
The remains of the stone building have been carefully removed revealing earlier Roman remains beneath. It is now clear that the stone structure replaced an earlier long and narrow building made entirely from timber.
The Roman timbers themselves have vanished completely but the positions of the north and south walls survive as stone-filled construction trenches, the stones having been packed around the base of wooden posts to hold them in position. At least part of the building was floored with clay and had with an internal drainage channel lined with stone slabs.
There are archaeological levels below this too, showing there was an even earlier phase of occupation on the site. Several pits are also being investigated. One of these has yielded a Samian ware cup in a style that had fallen out of fashion by the early years of the second century AD. Samian ware is red pottery from central Gaul. This, together with a late first-century Samian vessel recovered last year, could mean the settlement was occupied before the reign of the emperor Hadrian (AD 117-38) and that there was an earlier Roman fort at Maryport.
The team has also been looking at the area at the rear of the building plot. Three rectangular, vertical-sided pits that may have served as wells or cisterns are now being excavated.  Detailed analysis of pollen and other environmental remains in the soils at the base of these features may shed light on what they were used for. Samples from other parts of the site will also be analysed to provide information on local environmental conditions and cultivation of animals and plants for food.
Artist’s impression of Maryport Roman fort and settlement ©Oxford Archaeology Ltd commissioned by Hadrian’s Wall Trust

Connections across Roman Empire

Christian Levett said: “I’m particularly interested in the connections we’re seeing across the Roman empire through the imported objects the team is finding such as amphorae, pottery and ornaments.
“Maryport is a remote but important part of the Roman world with a fascinating story. I’m looking forward to more information coming through as the team continues the detailed analysis after they leave the site.”
Nigel Mills heritage advisor to the Hadrian’s Wall Trust said: “We’re indebted to the volunteers, local people and visitors alike of all ages, many of whom have come back to work on the site for a second year.
“The settlement project is helping us to understand much more about who the people were who lived here, how they lived, and the significance of Maryport in the Roman frontier.
“The frontier defences down the Cumbrian coast were just as important as Hadrian’s Wall itself. New interpretation panels have recently been installed at all the main sites along with guidebooks, cycle routes and a tourist trail so there is lots to see in this part of the world heritage site.”
Rachel Newman of the Senhouse Museum Trust said: “It’s very exciting to find such a wealth of information from the site, and it confirms that the site had a complex history beyond the visible, second-century fort.
“We’d also like to thank the volunteers – more people get involved each year and there’s a lot of interest from our local community.”

Source: Past Horizons:  http://www.pasthorizonspr.com/index.php/archives/05/2014/roman-maryport-revealing-a-more-complex-settlement

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