Page last updated at 18:31 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Workers unearth Roman settlement

A Roman settlement has been unearthed by a water company laying pipelines in Penrith, Cumbria.

It is believed to date back to the first century AD and includes remains of timber buildings and streets.

The discovery was made by United Utilities engineers during excavations for a sewage pipeline in October.

The team studying the ground, led by an archaeologist from Oxford, believe it was attached to a fort and used to house soldiers' families and traders.

Alison Plummer from Oxford Archaeology said: "The pipeline route is close to an existing Roman fort and graveyard, so we knew there was the chance of a significant find.

Enticing clues

"Within days of removing the topsoil, it was clear that we had hit upon something very important indeed.

"The discovery offers some enticing clues as to how our ancient ancestors spent the cold Cumbrian evenings.

"The beautiful and ornate jewellery also indicates that people took a lot of care over their appearance. These items are likely to have been worn by women of considerable social standing."

Melvin Dawson, from United Utilities, said: "The ancient Romans were pioneers in sanitation, so it's perhaps fitting that this discovery was made during a sewage pipeline project.

"The find has caused a lot of excitement among the engineering team."

The site has now been excavated and the recovered artefacts will be exhibited at Brougham Hall, Penrith, on 21 and 22 November.

Work will recommence on the sewage pipeline in the next year.

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