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Finds give answers to Roman history mystery

By This is Cornwall  |  Posted: June 25, 2010

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A new excavation site has uncovered major Roman ruins and artifacts, revealing the answers to one of the South West's biggest historical mysteries.

Major discoveries include a Roman fort, marching camp, various annexes, coins, pottery, glassware and pieces of slag suggesting an ironworks.

John Smith from Cornwall Council's Historic Environment Service said: "For Roman Britain it's an important and quite crucial discovery because it tells us a lot about Roman occupation in the South West that was hitherto completely unexpected."

For centuries, experts have been puzzled about the region's heritage. It was widely accepted by many that the Romans had settled only as far as Exeter and left for South Wales after 30 years.

This belief has always been challenged by two previous finds in Cornwall. Investigations in the 1960s revealed a Roman villa in Magor, near Camborne and in the 1970s another Roman fort was found in Nanstallon, near Bodmin.

Some archeologists questioned why the Romans would build in such isolation, but until now there was very little evidence to support a Roman expansion into Cornwall.

The first clue to the historical puzzle came from amateur archeologist, Jonathan Clemes of St Austell. Using a metal detector he discovered a number of Roman coins and pottery on the new site near Lostwithiel in Cornwall.

He brought the finds to the council's historic environment service, which then carried out a survey of the site.

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