Treasures of Ancient Rome – the secrets hidden beneath Carlisle

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A WINDOW has been opened to yet another major new archaeological dig – a reminder that Carlisle is still crammed with secrets.

New finds unearthed during last summer’s community digs at the Carlisle Cricket Club Roman Baths in Stanwix once again prove how difficult it is to destroy anything that has been built by man to disappears without a trace.

Originally discovered in 2017, the stunning finds include a large collection of hypocaust tiles, part of the bath floor heating systems, which were made locally.

Many of them have imprints accidentally made by animals or humans during manufacture.

Lead archaeologist on site Frank Giecco said the finds added to a growing body of evidence indicating Carlisle had a connection to the Roman imperial court.

Frank said it is not possible to prove that the emperor – Septimius Severus at the time (193 – 211 AD) – ever set foot in the building.

However, he added that the building clearly had a connection to the imperial court and that evidence was mounting.

He said: “It is a huge monumental building that was built by the imperial workshop when Septimius Severus was in this country.

“There is an awful lot of circumstantial evidence.

“It obviously has something to do with the Imperial Court because his workshop built it. To say he was ever physically there, you would need a time machine.”

Easy to make: Elsa Price places the Ilam frying pan in a display case. Photo: Stuart Walker

Today these and other of the most amazing finds from the Roman Empire are brought together under one roof for the first time, as the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle last night celebrated the 1900th anniversary of the Hadrian’s Wall.

They include the magnificent Newstead Face Mask – a bronze parade mask from the late 1st century AD which was discovered at the site of the largest Roman fort north of Hadrian’s Wall in the Scottish Borders.

The mask is on loan from the National Museums Scotland.

“The Newstead mask is mesmerizing to look at,” says Jill Goodfellow, Head of Exhibitions at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

“It would have been attached to the parade helmet of a Roman cavalry trooper and was worn for dramatic effect on drill rather than on the battlefield, as it would restrict the wearer’s vision too much in actual combat. .”

News and Star: ASTONISHING: Dr Fraser Hunter, Senior Curator at the National Museums of Scotland, examines the Newstead mask.  Photo: Stuart WalkerAMAZING: Dr Fraser Hunter, Senior Curator at the National Museums of Scotland, examines the Newstead mask. Photo: Stuart Walker

Visitors will also be able to see one of Hadrian’s Wall’s earliest ‘memories’ – the fascinating Ilam Pan – said to have been commissioned by a soldier to mark his military service on the wall in the mid-2nd century AD.

The llam Pan is jointly owned by Tullie House, the Potteries Museum and the British Museum. This exhibition will be the first time it has been shown at Tullie House in over five years.

These objects are part of the To the Edges of Empire exhibition – one of three exhibitions at Tullie House launched as part of HW1900 – the festival celebrating 1900 years since construction of Hadrian’s Wall began.

“The chance to see these and other objects under one roof is something really special,” said Andrew Mackay, director of the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.

“They explore the nature of the empire and highlight the importance of Britain and other regions, as the frontiers of the Roman Empire during the reign of Hadrian and subsequent emperors.”

News and Stars: Major new exhibitions of Roman artefacts at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery.  The exhibitions Uncovering Roman Carlisle and To The Edges of Empire are part of the Hadrians Wall 1900 festival. Photo: Stuart WalkerMajor new exhibitions of Roman artefacts at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery. The exhibitions Uncovering Roman Carlisle and To The Edges of Empire are part of the Hadrians Wall 1900 festival. Photo: Stuart Walker

Tullie’s Uncovering Roman Carlisle exhibition, which showcases the exciting finds made during the 2021 excavations at Stanwix, is explored through the stories of the locals who found them.

The project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and was carried out in partnership with Tullie House, Carlisle City Council, Wardell Armstrong and the Carlisle Cricket Club.

Our Hadrian’s Wall exhibit will use photos from members of the public to show how the wall has become part of daily life and intertwined with treasured family memories.

Stretching 73 miles from coast to coast, Hadrian’s Wall was built to guard the wild northwest frontier of the Roman Empire. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The museum also hosts a series of lectures by internationally renowned experts exploring topical perspectives on Hadrian’s Wall, World Heritage status, mobility and identity with the Roman Empire and the Roman occupation of the border provinces.

They take place on March 19, May 7 and May 28.

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