Archaeologists Hunt for Roman Troop Ship

By Keys, David | The Independent (London, England), April 19, 2001 | Go to article overview
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Archaeologists Hunt for Roman Troop Ship


Keys, David, The Independent (London, England)


ARCHAEOLOGISTS PLAN to locate and excavate the remains of what they believe to be an 1,800-year-old Roman troop ship buried deep within the mud of the Tyne estuary.

A detailed analysis of Roman finds discovered over the past 170 years on the southern foreshore of the estuary at South Shields, is now leading researchers to conclude that a Roman ship must have sunk there around 180AD - the peak of a military crisis in Britain.

Sonar scanning equipment will be used next month in an attempt to locate the wreck. If found then it would be the first Roman ship to be positively located in British waters.

The archaeologists, led by Paul Bidwell of Tyne and Wear Museums, believe that the ship was bringing re-enforcements, and the money to pay them with, but was wrecked in a storm. It is likely that the vessel was bringing fresh troops to fight against Barbarian invaders, who broke through Hadrian's Wall from what is now Scotland.

Archaeologists have examined Roman objects found at South Shields, including a Roman cavalryman's helmet cheek-piece, the central part of a Roman infantry shield, three bronze bowls, a fragment of a Roman cooking pot and 64 (mainly silver) coins.

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