Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rare Roman altar found at Maryport

In 1870, landowner and antiquarian Humphrey Senhouse discovered 17 altars buried at the Roman fort near Hadrian's Wall. Now Newcastle University archaeologists have added an 18th to this number.

Like those found by Senhouse, the altar had been buried, seemingly as ballast to support the walls of a large timber building. It was previously believed that the altars had been carefully interred as part of their dedication – now it appears certain that at some point they lost their status as objects of veneration and were used as building materials.

An inscription on the front of the altar reveals that it was dedicated to the god Jupiter, beginning with the letters I.O.M. - Iuppiter Optimus Maximus - Jupiter, best and greatest.