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Maryport temples dig wins national award


An archaeological dig led by Professor Ian Haynes has been named Research Project of the Year, following its discovery of colossal ‘mystery monuments’ overlooking the Solway.

The Roman Temples Project, Maryport beat off competition from five other projects to win a prestigious Current Archaeology award. Voted for by subscribers of Current Archaeology magazine and members of the public, the Current Archaeology awards recognise the outstanding contributions to our understanding of the past made by the people, projects, and publications featured in the magazine over the previous 12 months.

Ian Haynes (pictured) said: “We would like to thank not only all those who voted for us and the Senhouse Museum Trust and Newcastle University for their support, but also crucially our professional team, the Newcastle students and the volunteers who have made this project the success it has been.

“A special thank you too to the people of Maryport for their warm support for our shared endeavour.”

In 2011 the Senhouse Museum Trust initiated a campaign of excavation which, over the last four years, has been undertaken by a team from Newcastle University, supported by local volunteers. The fifth and final season will take place this summer.

Excavations at the 2nd century Roman fort have revealed the enigmatic traces of a huge timber building, whose post holes were packed with reused Roman altars. The team, including site director Tony Wilmott, has totally overturned the long-established explanation of why the altars - the largest ever cache of Roman altars to be discovered in Britain - was buried here, and discovered colossal and hitherto entirely unsuspected timber buildings from the twilight of the Roman Empire. These mystery monuments were built on foundations packed with stone, which is why the altars came to be buried in the pits. 

A short distance away from the site of the timber buildings the team confirmed the site and plan of the most north westerly classical temple in the Roman world to be discovered so far, dating from the 2nd century.

Finds made by the team since 2011, including a complete altar excavated in 2012, have been donated to the Senhouse Museum Trust by the landowner of the site, the Hadrian’s Wall Trust.

Speaking at the award ceremony Rachel Newman from the Senhouse Museum Trust said: “We are absolutely delighted that this excellent project funded by an independent charity has won such a prestigious award.”

Ian Haynes will be running the free FutureLearn online course Hadrian's Wall: Life on the Frontier again in June 2015. 

published on: 10 March 2015