18th September 2019

Oxford Archaeology North is pleased to announce that the publication of the results of the excavation of the extramural settlement of the Roman fort at Maryport, Cumbria is published! The research and community-training excavation took place over two summer seasons in 2013-14 within the Roman extramural settlement at Maryport, including the backplot.

The primary aim of the project, which attracted around 125 volunteers, was to enhance understanding of the settlement through the excavation of a single building plot, the first time this had been undertaken at Maryport in modern times. Using geophysical survey evidence, a plot located 150 m north-east of the fort, adjacent to the main Roman road, was selected for investigation.


The earliest feature was a small ditch, possibly part of a late pre-Roman or early Roman field system, but there was little evidence for activity before the late Hadrianic period (c AD 130+), when a timber ‘strip building’ was constructed on the street frontage. This went out of use in the mid-second century, but was immediately replaced by a similar structure. Following the demolition of this building around the end of the century, the plot was seemingly abandoned for a time, after which a stone-footed strip building was erected, probably c AD 220-30. Although direct evidence was sparse, all three buildings may have been multifunctional, possibly combining residential and commercial functions. To the rear was a palimpsest of features, including plot-boundary ditches and a group of wells and/or water cisterns.

The Roman properties on either side of this also contained stone-footed strip buildings during the third century, one separated by a minor road, extending north-west from the main road. The stone-footed building, and probably also those in the adjacent plots, had been demolished by c AD 270. Subsequent activity was extremely limited, but included the cutting, in the late third/early fourth century, of a ditch along the north-eastern boundary of the targeted plot. Thereafter, the site seems to have been abandoned completely, and no evidence of post-Roman activity was identified.

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The volume was launched at Maryport during the Hadrian's wall pilgrimage. Pete Wilson, chairman of the Senhouse Museum Trust, welcomed the pilgrims to the museum and presented our book to Graham Bell of culturatrust. The pilgrims are shown mostly hiding from the remarkably hot sun, including Sebastian Sommer, head of the Germanische Limes Commission, Andrew Selkirk of Current Archaeology, and Professor David Breeze. The book is available from Oxbow.