Vindolanda was a Roman fort south of Hadrian's Wall in northern England, similar to the Maryport Roman fort in Cumbria, England that Oxford archaeologists and volunteers are currently excavating (not pictured).
A team of archaeologists and volunteers unearthed the remains of what is believed to be a Roman fort and harbor on the coast of northwest England Tuesday.
While excavating the remains of a known Roman fort in the town of Maryport in Cumbria, England, the Oxford Archaeology North team, an independent archaeology and heritage practice in Europe, discovered a new fort that might predate the original Maryport one, as well as a harbor north of the site. There is currently no information about the new fort and harbor.
Archaeologists and historians believe that the known Maryport Roman fort was originally built before 120 AD, and was an "integral part" of the Romans' coastal defenses extending down the coast of Cumbria as a part of Hadrian's Wall, an 80-mile long wall built in 122 AD to protect the Roman Empire.
Funded by philanthropist Christian Levett, the Oxford Archaeology team has been exploring and excavating the known Maryport Roman fort's civilian settlement — northeast of the fort — to understand the daily life of ancient Romans. Site director John Zant told BBC News that the team is now trying to "piece together the complex story" of the Maryport Roman fort.
"We're concentrating on a building plot on the west side of the road," Zant said. “It's possible the road linked the fort with a Roman harbor. If this were the case, the road would have been a bustling thoroughfare along which most of the people and goods arriving at Maryport would have travelled.”
This civilian settlement, in particular, is believed to be the largest along Hadrian's Wall, and is rich with artifacts. The team has found tableware, fragments of glass vessels, storage vessels that contained Spanish olive oil and Gallic wines, as well as jewelry, including the remains of a glass bangle and a ring believed to be worn by "quite well-off women" according to Zant.
With more excavations set to start in different areas around the known Maryport Roman fort, the site is becoming key to understanding ancient Roman life in Britannia (Roman Britain).
"Maryport is a remote but important part of the Roman world with a fascinating story," Levett told BBC News. "I'm looking forward to more information coming through as the team continues the detailed analysis after they leave the site."