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HomeArchaeologyEvidence Of Rare Roman-Celtic Temple Near Lancaster Castle

Evidence Of Rare Roman-Celtic Temple Near Lancaster Castle

Jan Bartek – – Lancaster University employees and pupil researchers have found proof of a Romano-Celtic temple beneath public land close to Lancaster Castle – solely the second of its kind present in northern Britain.

What began as a team-building train to coach a gaggle of Ph.D. hydrogeophysics researchers to make use of specialist tools ended up offering proof of an in depth spiritual enclosure mendacity simply outdoors the Roman navy fort at Lancaster.

Evidence Of A Rare Celtic-Roman Temple Near Lancaster Castle

Image credit score: Jason Wood, Andrew Binley from Lancaster Environment Centre and British Archaeology journal Nov/Dec 2022

Professor Andy Binley, an professional in hydrogeophysics at Lancaster Environment Centre, provided to make use of his analysis experience and tools to proceed the work of the Beyond The Castle archaeological challenge, when heritage lottery funding ran out in 2017.

“I had a few Ph.D. students doing geophysical research and thought this was an interesting group hobby project, training them on techniques and getting them to work as a team,” mentioned Professor Binley, who makes use of geophysical strategies to unravel hydrological issues, comparable to assessing underground water in agriculture and monitoring groundwater contamination.

Lancaster had a big navy fort and garrison in Roman occasions. It was an essential command centre between Chester and Hadrian’s Wall and a base for naval operations and provide. The Beyond the Castle challenge had been utilizing normal geophysical strategies adopted by trial excavation to discover the inexperienced open area between Lancaster Castle and the River Lune. These had revealed proof of a constructing, considered a Roman warehouse, beneath an space known as Quay Meadow, owned by Lancaster City Council. But Professor Binley and his college students would make rather more in depth, and thrilling discoveries.

“What Andy brought to the project was much more sophisticated techniques and up to date equipment and someone from outside archaeology to apply a critical eye,” mentioned the Beyond the Castle challenge’s main archaeologist, Jason Wood. “The Roman archaeology in this area of Lancaster is very shallow because it hasn’t been built on. Consequently the archaeological layers are much nearer the surface, so there is wonderful potential.”

Professor Binley quickly bought hooked and concerned extra college students doing a number of surveys, together with visiting researchers from China, Italy and Iran, and a few masters and undergraduate college students doing analysis for his or her levels.

“Like Time Team, we looked under the ground without disturbing it, doing measurements on the surface. We used ground penetrating radar, which fires a pulse of energy into the ground and gets reflections from what lies underneath,” mentioned Professor Binley.

They additionally used a way known as resistivity mapping, injecting electrical energy into the bottom to measure its resistance to electrical energy – stays like stone partitions are rather more resistive to electrical energy than soil. Although related strategies have been used elsewhere in archaeological surveys, this was the primary time a few of these strategies and tools had been used on the Lancaster website.

Dr. Guillaume Blanchy, who was doing his Ph.D. at Lancaster University utilizing geophysical strategies to observe soil moisture change in agriculture, ended up organising loads of the investigations.

“In the beginning we were just trialling the equipment, then we were training others and then we just got a bit enthusiastic about the site, and wanted to map the entire field,” mentioned Dr Blanchy.

These strategies, together with comply with up coding and modelling by the researchers, produced a lot clearer 3D pictures than earlier surveys carried out on the website. When Mr. Wood noticed the outcomes he grew to become excited.

“We found some extraordinary things. I thought the area would be archaeologically sterile but to my great surprise it seemed to be stuffed with archaeology dated to the Roman period.”

The main discovery was what Jason believes is a Romano-Celtic temple – solely the second such temple present in Northern Britain – the opposite one is near Hadrian’s Wall.

These temples have a really particular design – two units of partitions forming a sq. inside a sq., with a really small inside.

“It would have been dedicated to a god, probably associated with the sea or river. The inner sanctum was reserved for the priests, the outer ambulatory space was for elite members of society,” mentioned Mr. Wood.

“Most of the religious activities would have happened outside the temple, including sacrifices. There would have been a sanctuary or enclosure, possibly with another temple and buildings associated with hospitality and curing the sick. The enclosure would have been separate from the fort, but connected to it by a road or processional way.”

Professor Binley and his college students’ surveys verify this, seeming to indicate the wall of the enclosure, with a gateway resulting in a processional approach. They additionally present a attainable roadside mausoleum outdoors the enclosure and what is perhaps the bottom of an altar near the temple.

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“So few of these sites have been excavated in the UK, so it is significant to have found a Romano-Celtic temple in its temenos (enclosure) by a river,” mentioned Mr. Wood.

“We couldn’t have interpreted the site without Lancaster University, and it was all done at no cost to ourselves, using techniques and related software not freely available.”

Written by Jan Bartek – Staff Writer


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