A study exercise for students from Lancaster University has revealed a Romano-Celtic temple near Lancaster Castle in northern Britain.
The discovery was made during a hydrogeophysics training session conducted adjacent to the Roman military fort and castle in Lancaster, revealing an extensive religious enclosure which has been identified as a Romano-Celtic temple.
Lancaster Roman Fort, also known as Wery Wall, Galacum or Calunium (a modern name given to the fort), was first constructed atop Castle Hill in Lancaster to command a crossing over the River Lune around AD 80.
During the early 2nd century AD, the fort was rebuilt in stone with a 2 metre thick revetment wall constructed in front of a clay-and-turf rampart. A Roman inscription at the fort records the re-building of a bathhouse and basilica in the middle of the 3rd century AD.
Around this time, the fort was garrisoned by the ala Sebosiana and the numerus Barcariorum Tigrisiensium. Archaeological evidence suggests that the fort remained active until the end of Roman occupation of Britain in the early 5th century.
Image credit: Jason Wood
“I had a few PhD students doing geophysical research and thought this was an interesting group hobby project, training them on techniques and getting them to work as a team,” said Professor Binley, who uses geophysical methods to solve hydrological problems, such as assessing underground water in agriculture and tracking groundwater contamination.
Using ground penetrating radar, resistivity mapping, and modelling to produce high resolution 3D images, the study found evidence of a Romano-Celtic temple showing a walled enclosure with a gateway leading to a processional way. The mapping data also shows a possible roadside mausoleum outside the enclosure, and what might be the base of an altar close to the temple.
“It would have been dedicated to a god, probably associated with the sea or river. The inner sanctum was reserved for the priests, the outer ambulatory space was for elite members of society,” said Beyond the Castle project’s leading archaeologist, Jason Wood.
“Most of the religious activities would have happened outside the temple, including sacrifices. There would have been a sanctuary or enclosure, possibly with another temple and buildings associated with hospitality and curing the sick. The enclosure would have been separate from the fort, but connected to it by a road or processional way,” added Wood.
Header Image Credit: Jason Wood
Early medieval carved stone of a warrior figure found in Glasgow
Archaeologists excavating the grounds of Govan Old Church in Glasgow, England, have discovered an early medieval carved stone figure dubbed the “Govan Warrior”.
Govan Old Church is the home of the Govan Stone Museum, a collection of early medieval and Viking-Age sculptures found in the grounds, including 30 sculptures from a lost kingdom of Old Welsh-speaking Britons known as the Ystrad Clud who dominated the Clyde valley from the 5th to 11th centuries AD.
Excavations have been conducted by the University of Glasgow and Clyde Archaeology, in which a carved stone of a warrior was uncovered during a community fun day organised as part of the Glasgow Doors Open Days Festival.
The carved stone depicts a man standing side on and carrying a round shield and a shaft. According to the researchers, the discovery dates from around 1,000-years-ago and is unlike any of the other carved stones found at Govan Old.
According to a press statement by the University of Glasgow: “The Govan Warrior is unique within the existing collection due to its stylistic characteristics, which has drawn parallels with Pictish art and carvings from the Isle of Man. Unlike the other stones in the Govan collection, whose chunky style of carving is so distinctive that it has been described as a school of carving in its own right (the ‘Govan School’), the Govan Warrior is lightly incised, which may bring parallels with famous Pictish stones like the Rhynie Man from Aberdeenshire.”
Professor Stephen Driscoll said: “It’s a style that makes us think both about the Pictish world and also about the Isle of Man and it’s interesting that we are halfway between these two places. Govan is the ideal place for these two artistic traditions or styles to come together.”
Header Image Credit : Govan Heritage Trust
Iron Age port discovered on Baltic Sea island of Gotska Sandön
An excavation project, in collaboration with archaeologists from Södertörn University, Uppsala University’s Campus Gotland, Gotland Museum, and the Swedish National Heritage Board, has led to the discovery of an Iron Age port on Gotska Sandön.
Gotska Sandön is an island and national park in Sweden’s Gotland County, situated 24 miles north of Faro in the Baltic Sea.
Earlier in 2023, archaeologists found two 2,000-year-old Roman coins on one of the island’s beaches. Both coins are made of silver, with one coin dating from AD 98-117 during the reign of Emperor Trajan, and the other coin dating from AD 138-161 during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius
In the latest excavations, archaeologists have now discovered evidence of twenty hearths on the same beach as the Roman coins discovery.
According to Johan Rönnby, a professor of marine archaeology at Södertörn University, the site is an Iron Age port, not in the sense of quays we imply in the modern era, but instead a place where Iron Age people regularly landed their boats and formed an encampment.
Although the purpose of the encampment is speculated, the researchers suggest that it may have been linked to an emerging seal hunting industry.
“Seal hunters may have come from the island of Gotland and landed on Sandön to boil seal blubber. This could have been what the hearths were used for, but we don’t yet know – there may be other reasons why the site looks like it does, such as it being a trading post,” said Rönnby.
Excavations and carbon-14 dating of one of the hearths has indicated that they also date from 2,000-years-ago, suggesting a possible link between the encampment and the Roman coins.
Header Image Credit : idw
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