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Thursday, 26 April, 2001, 09:13 GMT 10:13 UK
Roman armour find is 'unparalleled'
A modern-day mock up of Roman soldiers
The find could alter traditional images of Roman soldiers
Archaeologists in Cumbria have unearthed what they say is the finest collection of Roman armour to have been found in Britain since 1964.

The discovery was made at the site of a Roman fort in Carlisle, in the water-logged remains of what is thought to have been the fort's armoury.

Because the ground was so wet bits of leather and cloth to which the individual bits of armour were attached have also survived, which is very rare.


This is one of the most exciting and important archaeological discoveries of Roman armour in recent years

Thom Richardson
Royal Armouries museum

The items are currently awaiting conservation in a deep freeze at the University of Durham.

X-rays by experts have revealed what is believed to be a unique piece of armour made of strips of iron held together with bronze wire.

The haul also includes a pile of arm guards made of metal plates sewn onto leather. They covered the sword arm from shoulder to hand and were modelled on gladiators' equipment.

Thom Richardson of the Royal Armouries museum in Leeds said the find was "unparalleled" and suggested second century legionnaires wore much more varied armour than traditional images show.

'Invaluable'

"Without doubt this is one of the most exciting and important archaeological discoveries of Roman armour in recent years," he said.

"From initial observations it will provide invaluable technical information on how such armour was constructed and functioned."

The armour was among thousands of items dug up at the fort, which dates from around the second century AD.

Archaeologists are now trying to raise money to pay for the preservation of the finds, which they hope will eventually go display at Carlisle's Tully House museum.

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