From Guardian Online:
Archaeological dig unearths Roman army treasures
Thursday April 26, 2001
A workshop which may have produced armoury for cavalry escorts of the Roman
emperor Hadrian has been unearthed by archaeologists in the most significant
find for 50 years from Britain's Roman period.
Weapons, siege equipment and some of the best-preserved armour ever
discovered from the days of the legions are among hundreds of finds which
will go on public display next year. Waterlogged ground on the site of the
dig - by the main east-west street in Roman Carlisle - contained preserved
leather bindings and complex iron scales joined by bronze wire which are
thought to have protected cavalrymen's shoulders.
"We believe this is a unique discovery from anywhere in the Roman world,"
said Thom Richardson, keeper of Oriental and European armour at the Royal
Armouries. "It has the potential to solve the puzzle of how such armour
worked," he said.
The scale of the finds, which also include extremely rare sets of armour for
arms and legs, was revealed when clods of rock-like, congealed mud and metal
were taken for x-ray checks at the armouries in Leeds.
To the delight of the dig team, scans revealed the ghostly shape of the
armour sections, plus brighter twists of wire, hidden inside. "Basically,
they look like lumps of gunk at the moment, but we should have something
really spectacular to show the world when conservation is finished," said Mr
Richardson. Specialists will chip delicately away at the metal's mud casing,
salvaging leather components as the work is carried out.
The finds, discovered during a rescue dig on the site of Carlisle's new
Millennium Gallery by the former Roman fort of Luguvallium, are thought to
be rejects and scrap which accumulated under the armourers' workbenches.
Mr Richardson said: "It looks as though we've got years of the sort of stuff
engineers and craftsmen put to one side or throw away - bits of this and
that which all help to build our picture of how the Roman army was
Mike McCarthy, head of Carlisle Archaeology (a commercial offshoot of
Bradford university, which carried out the dig) said: "It's been a wonderful
discovery, one of the most important yet from Roman Britain. The hundreds of
different items are going to give us a fascinating insight."
The discovery is the biggest since large scale excavations in Corbridge in
Northumberland, where material unearthed in 1964 changed historians' views
of the Roman defensive system.
From: Malcolm Watkins [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: 26 April 2001 12:11
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Roman Armour Find
Can anyone provide more info on the find of armour from Carlisle which was
briefly described on Today this morning? Sounds very exciting and worth
seeing some pictures.