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Maryport Temples Dig Wins National Award

L-R: Ian Haynes, Tony Wilmott, Rachel Newman, David Breeze (c) Adam Stanford
L-R: Ian Haynes, Tony Wilmott, Rachel Newman, David Breeze (c) Adam Stanford

The Roman Temples Project, Maryport has won a prestigious Current Archaeology magazine award following its discovery of colossal ‘mystery monuments’ overlooking the Solway.

Current Archaeology is the UK’s best-selling archaeology magazine. The award ceremony is part of the annual Current Archaeology Live! conference at the University of London’s Senate House.

Voted for by subscribers 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 pages of the magazine over the previous 12 months.

The Maryport project was one of six archaeological research projects across the country to be nominated for the title Current Archaeology Research Project of the Year 2015, sponsored by Oxbow Books.

Current Archaeology  award - Maryport's mystery monuments
Current Archaeology award – Maryport’s mystery monuments

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

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.”

The project is led by Professor Ian Haynes of Newcastle University and Tony Wilmott, site director.

Ian Haynes 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.”

The team has totally overturned the long-established explanation of why 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 Roman Museum in Maryport by the landowner of the site, the Hadrian’s Wall Trust.

Ian Haynes will be running the free FutureLearn online course Hadrian’s Wall: Life on the Frontier again in June 2015 at  The course attracted participants from over a hundred countries when it ran for the first time in September 2014.

Senhouse Roman Museum admission prices are adult £4, child £1.50, family (2 adults and 2 or more children) £10. The museum is open in March 10.30am to 4 pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and from April to October 10am to 5pm every day.

Launched in 1967, Current Archaeology has recently celebrated its 300th issue. For a free issue of Current Archaeology magazine, call 020 8819 5546 and quote ‘Maryport’.

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