Volunteers praised by professional archaeologists for unearthing Cumbria's Roman history

  • Video Report by Ralph Blunsom

Two major excavations in the Border region are helping to uncover the area's Roman past.

Volunteers at this year's annual excavation at the Vindolanda Roman fort have been praised by professional archaeologists.

150 people have been helping the experts uncover more of the famous site near Brampton.

  •  Marta Alberti, Vindolanda Trust

Meanwhile in Carlisle, tiles 'fit for a Roman Emperor' have been discovered during their community excavation of a Roman bathhouse, which started on 31 August.

The finds indicate that Septimus Severus, a third century Roman Emperor, has connections to the site.

The excavation has also uncovered several tiles stamped with the official Roman Imperial stamp.

Dr Dot Boughton from Tullie House describes it as the tilery effectively saying they are “supplying tiles fit for the Emperor”

The excavation is discovering a substantial collection of these tiles at the excavation, potentially a uniquely large amount for a site in England.

Frank Giecco, Technical Director at Wardell Armstrong and lead archaeologist of the Uncovering Roman Carlisle excavation, said: "There have been a handful found in Carlisle at random places. We have probably got a dozen now from this site and it looks likethis is where they are coming from.

"I can't say that Septimus Severus ever set foot in Carlisle. Who knows. All we can say is that we have got a huge, monumental building that has been built in Carlisle.

"The Emperor was in Britain at that time, we've got an inscription from his wife in the building and we have got his personal workshop-stamped tiles coming from the building.

Anna Smalley, Head of Collections and Engagement at Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery Trust said: "We are delighted at how much this excavation seems to havecaptured the imagination of our local residents - we've had thousands of visitors to thesite over the past few weeks taking part in everything from object handling and sitetours to Roman themed family crafts!

Other finds from the Carlisle Bathhouse excavation include:

  • Paw Print Roman Tile - The most popular find is distinct paw prints, left by Roman cats and dogs. The ancestor of one the modern volunteers' pets could have been walking across this Roman tile and leaving its mark.

  • Iron signet ring - In the centre of the ring, has an intaglio made from carved stone or glass paste. Intaglios were used to stamp and authenticate letters. Important Romans throughout the Empire had their own unique intaglios.

  • Samian Ware Pottery with a bird - Samian ware was a very popular, rather fancy and fashionable type of Roman tableware. It is a fine red Roman pottery with a distinctive glossy surface, often depicting scenes of gods, animal hunts, gladiators, or natural scenes.

The 18-month programme includes community archaeological investigation, exhibitions, and engagement exploring Carlisle's Roman remains.

The project had received a £99,000 National Lottery Heritage Fund grant and is delivered in partnership by Carlisle City Council, Tullie House, Wardell Armstrong, and Carlisle Cricket Club.