West Cumbrian dig uncovers Roman building


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The first week of a 12-day excavation on land below Papcastle has uncovered remains of a Roman building which could have been used as a Roman bath house or a high status building.  

Grampus Heritage is leading the community excavation on land owned by Robert and Edmund Jackson. 

Archaeologists found evidence of walls of a large Roman building, shards of pottery and metal objects. 

The excavation is part of a development phase before the non-profit organisation puts in a full application bid in March for £200,000 to the Heritage Lottery to fund a three-year project. 

The team hopes the project will build a picture of the Roman heritage along the banks of the River Derwent at Cockermouth and Papcastle. 

Phase one of the bid has already been accepted, providing funding for six months and the cash was used for the two-week dig and a further six days of digging at an unconfirmed location, which will show the team where resources should be directed for the main project. 

Archaeologist Mark Graham said: “It is too early to identify exactly what the building was used for but we have to ask ourselves was this a Roman bath house or could it have been used as a high status building for an official person in the town? 

“We hope the dig will show the importance of Roman Papcastle and that it was a site of incredible administrative importance. 

“As we have not yet seen a record of this site in recent historical documents it is so exciting that we may be the first people to have uncovered these remains in hundreds, maybe thousands, of years.” 

A geophysical survey last year created a picture of what might be below ground using magnetic signals, and showed what might have been a substantial Roman building. 

The survey was part of a dig by volunteers at Broomlands, near the Lakes Homecentre, which revealed a water mill, evidence of a civilian settlement, a Roman road, camp and industry. 

The team hopes the funding will also pay for an education consultant to engage local schools during the three-year project. 

Grampus Heritage also hopes to find premises in Cockermouth to display some of the finds. 

In 1998, Channel 4’s Time Team, led by Tony Robinson, visited Papcastle expecting to unearth remains of a Roman fort believed to have existed in the area. 

Instead it found that there was a town attached to the fort, which thrust the village to the same level of importance as Carlisle and Corbridge. 

l An open day will be held tomorrow from 10am to noon for anyone interested in the finds or wishing to volunteer for the next dig. Members from Grampus Heritage will meet in the James Walker car park. 

Source: Times and Star [October 13, 2011]



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