New dig will unearth lost Roman history
A TIME TEAM-style project aims to reveal the lost history of the Roman fort at Bowes.
The scheme, being led by the Architectural and Archaeological Society of Durham, aims to undertake a study of key Roman sites in the areas around Bowes and Greta Bridge.
Using the title of ‘Roman Forts and Civilian Communities’, the initiative will increase knowledge of the Roman occupation of the North Pennines.
It is being funded by the Heart of Teesdale Landscape Partnership, which was awarded £3million Lottery cash to pioneer dozens of history-inspired landscape improvements.
South Teesdale was once a hugely important part of Rome’s northern empire and Bowes fort stood on the strategically important road across the Pennines.
The Architectural and Archaeological Society says the fort, called Lavatris, and its surroundings are largely free of modern buildings yet have never been the subject of detailed investigation.
Geophysical and topographical surveys, using the latest techniques, will be carried out to map the interior of the fort, hopefully revealing details of the layout of its buildings for the first time.
It is believed a large shanty town grew up around the fort and small-scale archeological digs have shown evidence of this in recent years. The Architectural and Archaeological Society aims to pin down the exact location and extent of civilian settlement and the position of official buildings, such as the regimental bathhouse, parade-ground and annexes.
Historians also hope to reveal the lines of approach roads, the position of cemeteries and any other Roman features.
Two temples, which lie about two miles to the south of the Lavatris fort on Scargill Moor, show evidence of worship to Vinotonus, a local Celtic god who was possibly the protective guardian deity of the local area. These temples may also form part of the investigation.
‘Roman Forts and Civilian Communities’ has been given a three-year timescale, from June this year to 2016.