The discovery of the stone head was made by a member of the community archeology project WallQuest at Arbeia Roman Fort in South Shields.
Experts believe it is possibly the goddess of the Brigantes, the tribe that inhabited northern Britain during Roman times.
Brigantia was known to have been worshipped in South Shields, with an altar dedicated to her found at the Baring Street site in 1895 only 100m away from this recent discovery.
Nick Hodgson, WallQuest project manager, said:
“The head is a truly wonderful find. Northern Britain was a dangerous place for the Roman army in the second century AD; if the goddess is Brigantia it shows how keen the Romans were to placate the spirits of the region.”
The relic was found in an aqueduct channel that was filled in about AD 208 to make way for the enlargement of the Roman fort when it became a supply base.
These finds seem to suggest that there may have been a shrine to Brigantia somewhere close to the present excavation site at Arbeia.
It seems that the shrine got in the way of the extension to the fort and was demolished meaning the statue was broken up.
The head will go on display at Arbeia after conservation work in spring when the museum reopens for the 2015 season.
WallQuest will also return to the excavation sites at Arbeia in spring and members of the public are encouraged volunteer for the project.
Source – Shields Gazette, 08 Oct 2014