Saturday, August 04, 2012

Dig reveals early Christian cemetery

Early Christian graves have been found in the archaeological dig at Camp Farm, Maryport, next to the foundations for a large building identified in the 2011 excavation season.  The site overlooks a nearby Roman fort and settlement.

Said Newcastle University's Professor Ian Haynes, project director for the excavation,: "We still haven't resolved the full plan of the site, and this will be our focus for the remaining weeks of the excavation. As far as the structures are concerned, it's looking as if there are at least two phases of construction.  Meanwhile, the graves that have been discovered indicate sustained use of the cemetery site."

Painstaking excavation has revealed bone fragments, caps of tooth enamel, a glass bead necklace and a tiny fragment, about the size of a thumbnail, of ancient textile.

"Given the ground conditions at this site the survival of this scrap of material is nothing less than miraculous", said site director Tony Wilmot. "We're discovering new things on an almost daily basis which are giving us new insights into what happened on this site across hundreds of years. It will take a while to process all the information following the dig but what we think we're looking at now is a Christian cemetery close to a sequence of Christian religious buildings.  If this is the case then this is a very exciting discovery - an early post-Roman Christian religious site occupied at the same time as other famous early Christian sites at Whithorn and at Hoddom in nearby Dumfriesshire."