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Rare Roman altar found at Maryport dig site

London, Mon, 13 Aug 2012 ANI

London, August 13 (ANI): Archaeologists have discovered an altar at the site of a Roman fort in Cumbria, the first such find in 142 years.

The inscribed artefact was revealed intact during an archaeological dig on the edge of Maryport, UK.

The experts have described it as in "beautiful condition" and attributed the fact that it was intact to it being kept face down in a pit in its dedication to the god "Jupiter Optimus Maximus", the BBC reported.

The altar will join 17 others that were unearthed by landowner Humphrey Senhouse in 1870, which are in the town's Roman museum.

Senhouse Roman Museum's manager described the altar as "rare and special".

Dated to the 2nd or 3rd Century AD, it was inscribed on behalf of Titus Attius Tutor, commander of the First Cohort of Baetasian that came to Maryport from what is now the Netherlands.

The altar was found on Wednesday by John Murray, a volunteer on the dig, who said it "felt fantastic" to be the first person to touch it for at least 1,600 years.

It was located in a large pit, which would once have underpinned a massive timber edifice, occupying the highest point of the ridge overlooking the Solway Firth and Maryport's Roman fort.

Professor Ian Haynes, from Newcastle University, said the find confirmed the theory that at some point the altars lost their significance and Romans used them in building work.

Earlier, it was thought that the altars were ritually buried.

"Finds like this don't come up very often, so I think people are over the moon actually," he said.

"It's really a tremendous reward for all the hard work they've put into the site," he added. (ANI)

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