Archaeology Magazine

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Late Roman Site Was Reused by Early Christians

Friday, March 08, 2013

MARYPORT, ENGLAND—Archaeologists Tony Wilmott and Ian Haynes think that they have found a Christian church dating to the end of Roman rule in Britain. Maryport, which is located along the coast of the Solway Firth, was once home to a Roman fort that defended the western end of Hadrian’s Wall. “The discovery of pits containing altars in 1870 led to a belief that these stones were ritually buried by the Roman army. This is something that became accepted. What we discovered was that the altars were actually buried as ballast to support the large posts used for the church buildings,” said Haynes. In a Christian-style burial at the site, volunteers unearthed fragments of bone and a tooth, in addition to a tiny piece of wool that was radiocarbon dated to between 240 and 340 A.D. “In the end, the least unlikely explanation is that the structures include a Christian church,” added Wilmott.