A Roman temple dating from the second century A.D. has unearthed by archaeologists in the north of England. The temple was found near Hadrian’s Wall, a defensive fortification built by the Romans in Britain, and is part of a larger settlement that developed around the wall.
The remains were first uncovered in 1880 by the amateur archaeologist Joseph Robinson, but the team, led by Ian Haynes, from the University of Newcastle, excavating the site in 2013 was able to confirm the building was an ancient Roman temple. A settlement was established at the site and was built around a Roman fort and Hadrian’s Wall.
The Roman temple had an approximate height of 8.4 meters (27.6 feet), and the archaeologists are working on drawing a reconstruction of it. “We can confirm the stone building first uncovered in the 1880s was a temple from its shape, characteristically rectangular with an apse at the southern end. Foundations for columns at the entrance at the northern end of the building have also been identified,” said Haynes.
According to Haynes, the ruin is the most northwesterly Roman temple ever discovered. Maryport is a coastal town located in the borough of Cumbria in Cumberland. During Roman times, Maryport was the site of a fort called Alaluna and served as a coastal supply line to Hadrian’s Wall.
The team is currently in the third year of a planned five-year excavation project. Nigel Mills, director of world heritage and access for the Hadrian's Wall Trust, said the discovery of a Roman temple as well as the settlement that developed around the fort were an important discovery for Roman history and plans are in place to begin excavating nearby buildings. "The fort and civilian settlement at Maryport were a significant element of the coastal defenses lining the northwestern boundary of the Roman Empire for more than 300 years," he said.
Hadrian’s Wall, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987, was built by the Roman Emperor Hadrian in 122 A.D. and was 118 kilometers (approximately 73 miles) long. The archaeologists plan on returning to the temple site next to study the building and determine the original location of altars discovered around Maryport. The altars were dedicated to Roman gods, including Jupiter, and were routinely relocated.