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19 March 2006
Roman carving discovered by a team looking for prehistoric rock art

An ancient rock carving has been uncovered near Chesters Roman Fort (Northumberland, England). The carving of a 40cm high figure, holding a shield in one hand and spear or sword in the other, was found at Carr Edge near the fort by a team of rock carving experts. It was uncovered by a team of enthusiastic local volunteers looking for prehistoric rock art as part of the Northumberland and Durham rock art project – a scheme funded by English Heritage and run by Northumberland and Durham County Councils.
     Rock art project officer Tertia Barnett said: "This is a completely unexpected discovery. It shows how much there is still to discover about Northumberland’s ancient past. It was discovered by a team out looking for prehistoric art work. They noticed part of the carving that was uncovered and cleared the soil off the rest. They knew at once it wasn’t prehistoric, because such art is abstract.”
     The discovery puts the spotlight on the way of life nearly 2,000 years ago when local gods were believed to help protect and bring good luck. Carvings of human figures holding shields and spears are known from other sites in the vicinity of Hadrian’s Wall. The carving is thought by experts to be a representation of Cocidius, a Romano-British warrior god. "We can date it from the Roman period by looking at the style of the carving and the stance of the figure. It is very similar to other Roman period carvings of the same deity in the area," explained Tertia.

Source: Hexham CXourant (17 March 2003)

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