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Roman road foundations unearthed by A66 upgrade

Carriageway reconstruction on the A66 in Cumbria has discovered the foundations of the original Roman road, as well as traces of Roman life and death.

The £5M upgrade at Eden Valley has unearthed pottery post-holes for timber housing and a Roman grave, as well as the road.

Highway England project manager Steve Mason said: “As we’re essentially replacing the ancient foundations of the A66 between Low Moor and Kirkby Thore we realised before starting the work that we might come across Roman remains.

“We’ve worked very closely with archaeologists for several months and it’s been very interesting to see what kind of things are turning up. It has added a bit more complexity to planning and delivering the improvements, but we’ve been determined from the outset to ensure that what we find on site is treated seriously and sensitively.”

Highways England has been working alongside Guard Archaeology and Amey Consulting on the archaeological aspects of the project.

The route of the modern A66 roughly follows an important Roman road which linked the Roman forts and settlements of Cumbria with the Roman forts and settlements of North Yorkshire, passing by through the vicus (or village) that lay just outside the Roman Fort of Bravoniacum, which lies below modern-day Kirkby Thore.

Guard excavation director John-James Atkinson said: Not only have we revealed the foundations of the Roman road but we have revealed traces of timber buildings that lay adjacent to the Roman road to the south-west of the fort. While the timber has long since rotted away, the construction of these buildings has left post-holes and pits from which we have recovered a variety of Roman pottery sherds.

The sherds include Samian pottery from Roman Gaul which was once used as fine tableware for rich and well-connected soldiers and citizens, amphorae which may have once held wine or olive oil from the Mediterranean as well as more common greyware and coarse ware that was made in Roman Britain itself.

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