Archive for April 24th, 2010

Roman altar stones found in Scottish cricket ground

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

A cricket pavilion in Musselburgh, East Lothian, is undergoing renovations. Because Lewisvale Park, where the pavilion currently stands, is in a Scheduled Ancient Monument area, the developers hired an archaeology firm to survey the site before pouring new foundations.

Roman altar stones on cricket groundsThe archaeologists have uncovered two Roman-era altar stones, one dating to the 2nd century A.D. and dedicated to the god Jupiter. The other has yet to be dated. They both have intricate carving around the edges and on one side, and show signs of having been toppled over at some point. We won’t know what the inscriptions say until the dirt that has accumulated from that toppling is removed.

Some postholes, a lead bowl and both fine and handmade pottery were also found along with the stones, but the latter are the big news because they’re a rare find as far north as Scotland.

Councillor Paul McLennan, cabinet member for community wellbeing at East Lothian Council, said: “The discovery of these remains is particularly exciting, as it is not often that Roman altar stones are discovered during an archaeological excavation in Scotland.

This helps with the emerging picture of life in and around the Roman fort at Inveresk during the 2nd century.”

Inveresk was first settled by Romans after they invaded Scotland in 80 A.D. In addition to the fort, they also built a bridge that is still in use (with some rebuilding over the centuries) by pedestrians today. The civilian settlement included an amphitheater and a bathhouse.

The altar stones and the other artifacts found on site have been removed for conservation and study, so now the construction on the cricket pavilion can proceed apace. I guess the postholes are out of luck. :(

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