Pile of Roman Armor, Weapons Discovered in U.K.

April 27, 2001

Hundreds of pieces of Roman armor —some of it very similar to that worn by gladiators—have been unearthed in one of the most significant archaeological finds ever made in Britain.

The rare discovery will provide a fascinating insight into life on the Roman empire's most northerly outpost, the imposing Hadrian's Wall.

Archaeologists discovered several unique pieces of what are thought to be limb guards, most commonly used by gladiators in the arena to protect their arms and legs in battle.

The artifacts have been x-rayed by staff from the Royal Armouries in Leeds, and taken to the University of Durham, where they will be stored in protective deep freeze until conservation work begins.

The find, made at Carlisle Castle, in Cumbria, uncovered buildings dating back to Emperor Hadrian's visit to Britain in A.D. 122.

Among the discoveries was an armorer's workshop, containing hundreds of items of plate armor, and weaponry including spears, arrow heads, and sling shots.

John Zant, deputy managing director of Carlisle Archaeology, said: "There are some very unusual pieces, and we and our colleagues at the Royal Armouries in Leeds are getting very excited about it.

"This is undoubtedly the most significant discovery since 1964, when a huge haul of armor was found at Corbridge."

One of the most intriguing discoveries is that of the limb guards.

"We know these were used by gladiators in the arena but they are not shown in any contemporary depictions of legionaries," said Zant.

"They were certainly not standard issue and we are very keen to find out why they were used here.

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