Friday, July 13, 2012



HERE'S YOUR chance to get your hands dirty at a new series of archaeological dig sites at Ancient Roman forts along Hadrian's Wall in northeastern England.

A community archaeology project has just received £400,000 (over $600,000) from Britain's Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to uncover the history of Hadrian's Wall.

The thrilling part is that the digs are in hitherto unexplored areas with the promise of unexpected finds — and that the general public can take part.

Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums is organising the three-year project, which will involve more than 500 people in the Newcastle/Tyneside/South Shields area.

Work will begin in autumn 2012 to unearth details about Hadrian's Wall, including large sections under modern-day roads and buildings, and to raise awareness of the Roman fortification in local communities, including Arbeia Roman Fort (photo upper left).

Members of the public participating in the project will have the opportunity to get involved in excavation work, surveying and desk-based research. They will also work alongside professional archaeologists and historians.

Who knows? You could stumble onto artefacts pertaining to Antinous in his form as ANTENOCITICUS, whose temple was found in a corner of the Roman fort of Condercum, in what is now a residential neighborhood of suburban Newcastle.

A rather crudely sculpted head was found. Despite the lack of artistic refinement, the curly-locked hair and the name Antenociticus strongly indicate a link to Antinous. The wall was built mostly before Antinous came into Hadrian's life, but this Temple seems to have been constructed after the religion of Antinous spread throughout the world. 

The names of the two deities have a very familiar ring, and may be due to mispronunciation, or to a more deliberate effort to assimilate Antinous into the Romano-Britannic religion of the surrounding populous. 

This Antinous-Antenociticus is important because he shows that the spirit of Antinous found its place even amongst the ancestors of the English speaking nations, who have now emerged as the inheritors of his new religion.

Although Britannia was the farthest extreme of Rome, it has become her fulfillment in the modern world. The British Empire and her daughter, American popular culture, are the New Rome.

The ideal of world peace and stability that was Hadrian's dream is finding its first realization since his golden age. This seed of Antinous, planted in a small, obscure Temple on the very frontier of the great, loving Roman Empire of the Age of the Antonines, has blossomed in our time. Veneration of this Celtic deity is veneration of the same boy who fell into the Nile.

Thanks to this new archaeological project, new insights into Antenociticus and his mysterious frontier shrine (rendering at right) may quite literally be unearthed.

Ged Bell, chairman of Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums joint committee, said: "This is a very exciting project which will reveal more about one of our region's most important landmarks, from its starting point in Wallsend and heading as far west as Hexham and Corbridge."

Segedunum Roman Fort in Wallsend is the most excavated fort along Hadrian’s Wall, and it is hoped that the project will unearth further finds.

The research will focus on the remains of the Roman Fort of Condercum in Benwell; sections of the wall in Wallsend, central Newcastle and Roman finds from Gateshead; Arbeia Roman Fort at South Shields; and the "lost Roman road" between Chesters and Corbridge, the route of which is unknown.

Former BBC weather presenter Trai Anfield, who has been appointed as a new member of the HLF north east committee, said: "The project will bring different parts of the community together to help uncover the secrets of this lesser-known part of Hadrian’s Wall.

"It will provide fantastic volunteering opportunities and teach people taking part a diverse range of practical archaeological skills."

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