Friday, 29 November 2013

Comment: Walking Through History ... this Saturday at 8pm, C4

Walking Through History - this Saturday. Watch Channel 4 this Saturday 30/11/2013 at 8pm to find out more about Romans in the Lake District. Lets see if we spot Ravenglass on it!  Tony Robinson  filmed at Ravenglass mere weeks before the excavation started.

Information on the website is as follows:

"It was 30 years after the Romans invaded Britain that they were ready to take on the challenge of  conquering the Lake District. With the toughest landscape they had encountered in the country, peopled by a rebellious tribe, it was no small task.

Two full legions - 11,000 armed men - marched north, led by two top generals. This extraordinary commitment was rewarded, and within a few years, the whole of Lakeland was under Roman control.

Tony Robinson tackles the journey, but, as he discovers on this 50-mile walk from Penrith past Ullswater to Ambleside and on to the Irish Sea at Ravenglass, the Romans encountered beauty and danger in equal measure.

Today the Lakes may be better known for Wordsworth, Beatrix Potter and, of course, walking holidays, but for centuries they were a hive of industry: a rich source of lead, silver and iron.

The Romans carved roads through the region and built impressive forts, bath houses and a major port, enabling them to keep control and export the minerals they wanted.

But the traffic was not all one-way. As Tony discovers, many of the native Britons enthusiastically adopted Roman customs.

Most of the millions of us who visit the area will see nothing of our Roman predecessors, but they did leave a wealth of reminders of their 300-year occupation, if you know where to walk and look"

If you miss the 8pm showing, it's on Channel 4+1 on Freeview at 9pm on the 30th , and also Channel 4seven on Freeview, 7pm on 2nd December. 

Comment: Venus Anadyomene

When I saw first saw the dig's lovely Samian sherd with a female figure on it, I immediately thought it's Venus, and wasn't sure why, apart from the fact she has no clothes on!:

So I've looked into it more closely, and realised I may have been thinking of Roman pipeclay figurines, like this Venus here, from York Archaeological Trust's Excavations at 24-30 Tanner Row:

This is what Dave Hooley said about this figurine in 'General points from an accident of fortune' Archaeology in York Interim Volume 13 No 1, 1988, page 18-19:

Venus was not simply the 'Goddess of Love', she is depicted here [see the photograph above] as Venus Anadyomene, a guise which derives its inspiration from Aphrodite's birth from the seas, and is believed to be a dedication to the water-nymph guardian of the sacred waters from which all life flows. The figurine itself is almost certainly made  in Central Gaul.

The lifting of her hand is to shake water from her hair.  In addition Samian is imported from Gaul, where the pipeclay figurines are also made. So maybe this is common them for that area of the Empire, and it isn't a surprise to also find her on Samian.  I was certainly able to find archaeological reports online which mentioned the motif appearing on Samian, such as that found at Piercebridge.

However, I could easily be wrong, and it'll be interesting to see what the Samian experts say when the pottery is written up in coming years.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Comment: Romans in Ravenglass video now live!

I’m pleased to say that the Romans in Ravenglass video is now available to view on the Lake District National Park website. Just click here to view.

The 5 minute version is a cut down version of the 13.40 minute one which is well worth watching. It gives a really good impression of the dig and what all your hard work achieved. If you are lucky you might even see yourself in the video!!

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Comment: Get automatic updates of the blog!

This blog is updated fairly regularly, even out of season. But it must be difficult for readers to keep up to date, having to remember to keep coming back. To solve the problem, there is now a new Gadget!

If you look in the right hand column of the blog screen and scroll down a bit, you will find 'Follow the Romans in Ravenglass Blog By Email' and a box to enter your email address. You will need to verify the email by entering the word you will see on the screen, after that you will get an email from FeedBurner Email Subscriptions with a link to activate your blog subscription.  On clicking the link you should receive email updates to this blog.

In the pipeline are items about the various categories of finds as the specialists give in their reports, plus further information about the Geophysical Survey. Give it a go, and never miss new posts!

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Report: Lake District Archaeology Conference, 3rd November

The Lakeside Theatre in Keswick was pretty much sold out for the conference about this year's Lake District archaeology.
 The whole emphasis of the conference was community archaeology. With the formation of the Archaeology Network, the Lake District knows it has a wonderful volunteer resource for helping out with various projects within the National Park.  Added to that, there are several projects (for further information, see this newsletter) funded by the Heritage Lottery, as well as other other types of funding.  All would not take place if it were not for volunteers from the local community.

There are currently three Roman vici or settlement projects going on in the area!  There was Papcastle, Maryport and of course Ravenglass. So it was intreresting to hear about the various findings of these three sites, and someone commented that there would doubtless be a monograph on Roman Settlements in Cumbria appearing in the next few years.

The conference saw the first showing of Romans in Ravenglass - the film!  The version we saw was around five minutes long, and featured some now well known faces, including Holly, Kurt, Brian K, Leo, and Peter Frost-Pennington, as well as some of the diggers talking about their experiences. This version is due to be uploaded to the Lake District website shortly.  There is also a longer version of the film, which will hopefully be shown at the community presentation next year.

Ravenglass Director Kurt came over from York for the day to talk about the Dig.  Having only very recently got hold of the Geophys results, he was able to provide additional information with regards to the Roman roads, but said there is much more to come (this will be the subject of a future blog).
 It was also a chance to catch up with some of the Romans in Ravenglass volunteers!  It was great to meet up and exchange news.

Overall, it was an interesting and informative day, which gave a great insight to the work being done under the auspices of the Lake District National Park, as well as further Roman sites in the area.