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>From the Irish studies list, the story grows more complex------- To: ireland_list <email@example.com> Date: Sat, 20 Jan 1996 19:29:09 -0800 (PST) Subject: Roman Objects Found at Drumanagh Site The Sunday Times 21-Jan-96 Irish dig dispels a bit of blarney A NONDESCRIPT patch of land 15 miles north of Dublin has shattered one of Ireland's strongest myths. It indicates that the country was, after all, invaded by the Romans, write Ciaran Byrne and John Maas. For centuries the Irish believed it never happened. While Britain bent to the Roman yoke, the Irish were held to have lived in a heroic Celtic twilight on the fringes of the empire. There were no references in classical literature to a Roman presence in Ireland, and any artefacts found were said to be imported. Now archeologists have revealed one of the most exciting Roman discoveries of the century. From beneath the soil at Drumanagh, clear evidence has emerged of a Roman coastal fort of up to 40 acres. It extends the known limits of the Roman empire. The fort has been identified as a significant Roman beachhead, built to support military campaigns in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. It was heavily defended and is believed to have developed into a big trading town. Coins found at the site are stamped with the names of the emperors Titus, Trajan and Hadrian, suggesting Roman involvement in Ireland at least from AD79 to 138. The location of the fort has been known to a small group of archeologists and the National Museum of Ireland for more than a decade but they have kept it secret. Legal difficulties surround the site, which has yet to be bought by the Irish government from its private owner. Items including jewellery and valuable ornaments are held at the museum in Dublin but have not been put on public display. Experts on the Roman period hailed the find this weekend. Barry Cunliffe, professor of European archeology at Oxford University, described it as "staggering". "It is one of the most important Roman sites in Europe and fits in exactly with what Rome was doing along all the frontiers of its empire. Drumanagh is absolutely crucial as it may explain the scatter of Roman material which has been turning up in Ireland." Barry Raftery, professor of archeology at University College, Dublin, said it was the most important find in Ireland. He believes hundreds of people populated the fort in houses densely packed into the enclosure. Similar-sized Ro man forts in Britain housed up to 5,000 people. Richard Warner, keeper of antiquities at the Ulster Museum, said excavation of the Drumanagh site would be the most significant ever envisaged for any period in Irish history. Experts are linking the discovery to smaller finds which indicate that a large area of Ireland's east coast was under heavy Roman influence. These include the burial site of a British chieftain found on Lambay Island, three miles away. Warner believes the size of the outpost suggests the Romans tried to control Irish internal politics during the period, in a series of military campaigns designed to carve out kingdomsin the interior for exiled Irish nobility. One such exile who returned from Britain in the late 1st century was Tuathal Techtmar, who is believed to have acted with Rome's blessing. An army composed of exiled Irish and British adventurers invaded with the support of Roman weapons, training and organisation. Warner said he believed another Roman military cam paign led to the establishment of Cashel, now a key town in Tipperary, whose name is derived from the Latin word Castellum. Fragments of equipment used by a Roman eye surgeon were discovered in a field in Tipperary in the 19th century, but archeologists at the time were baffled as there was little or no evidence of Roman influence in the area. For Warner and other archeologists, a full excavation of the Drumanagh site will provide the answers to a mystery that has endured for nearly 2,000 years.