Roman Handprint from Teesdale

From the Teesdale Mercury … pity no photos:

A major archaeological discovery was made in Teesdale after men working on a £1million spa found the remains of a Roman building – along with coins, pottery, glass and a roof tile with a Roman handprint on it.
The discovery was made by a construction team digging up land at The Morritt at Greta Bridge to install a green waste system for the hotel’s new development.
Work had to be temporarily halted while experts were called in to investigate the buried remains.
Barbara Johnson, the owner of the hotel, said: “One side of me is really excited because I’m absolutely fascinated with what we’re finding here but on the other hand I find it totally frustrating that these Romans are halting our progress.”
Since Roman times, the road to Scotland has crossed the River Greta before climbing the Stainmore Pass to Carlisle and this is not the first significant historical find made at Greta Bridge.
The Morritt is built on a Roman settlement and 15 years ago, when Barbara and her husband Peter were building a cottage on the site, it had to be placed on a “floating foundation” so it did not disturb the fort beneath it.
Following the latest discovery last week, archaeologists have been working to reveal the structure of a Roman wall and retrieve artefacts including coins, pottery, glass, structural nails and roof tiles.
Cath Ross, a Northern Archaeological Association project officer working on behalf of Teesdale-based Archaeo-Environment, said the find was rare.
She said: “We think the building we’ve found is possibly from the 2nd Century AD. It’s very interesting but possibly unsurprising. But it gives us a rare opportunity to excavate something of this quality. To find a Roman building is very rare.”
One of the roof tiles found in the dig has a Roman handprint on it – which experts believe could be the trademark of the builder who laid it.
Ms Ross also believes the building may have had underfloor heating because of the discolouration of the bricks and a gap left between the top layer of slabs and those underneath.
As well as discovering the wall, which is mainly intact, a further dig has also revealed a 200-year-old turnpike road, where tolls would have been collected. It was found under just 40 centimetres of Tarmac. Mrs Johnson said that while the finds were exciting, they have caused a headache because the opening of the £1million Garage Spa is so near.
Costs involved in the excavation of the Roman wall will have to be paid by the Johnsons and the job could set them back up to £40,000.
She said: “I understand what they have to do but I can’t not open. I’ve got people booked in, I’ve got the press coming and a VIP night planned. I’ve also got new staff sorted.”
A green waste bio unit will now be installed on another part of the Morritt’s grounds and the new spa’s opening will go ahead as planned at the end of the month.
The turnpike road and Roman remains are being documented and photographed before being covered up again.
Mrs Johnson plans to display the artefacts in the hotel, along with other treasures found 15 years ago.

I think this is the first ‘handprint’ we’ve mentioned in these pages … we did do a thing on footprints a while back (Footprints in the … Well, Lots of Stuff … some of the photos have ‘expired’ alas) and a bit later we read of one from Caerleon (For the Footprint Fans). Would have been nice to have a photo of this one …

Also Seen: Justinian’s Plague ~ Yersina Pestis?

A bit outside our purview, but worth noting, is  a study which did some genomic type research and found a possible connection (not overly stressed) with Justinian’s plague … read about it here:

Here’s the abstract, just for tl;dr purposes:

The successful reconstruction of an ancient bacterial genome from archaeological material presents an important methodological advancement for infectious disease research. The reliability of evolutionary histories inferred by the incorporation of ancient data, however, are highly contingent upon the level of genetic diversity represented in modern genomic sequences that are publicly accessible, and the paucity of available complete genomes restricts the level of phylogenetic resolution that can be obtained. Here we add to our original analysis of the Yersinia pestis strain implicated in the Black Death by consolidating our dataset for 18 modern genomes with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data for an additional 289 strains at over 600 positions. The inclusion of this additional data reveals a cluster of Y. pestis strains that diverge at a time significantly in advance of the Black Death, with divergence dates roughly coincident with the Plague of Justinian (6th to 8th century AD). In addition, the analysis reveals further clues regarding potential radiation events that occurred immediately preceding the Black Death, and the legacy it may have left in modern Y. pestis populations. This work reiterates the need for more publicly available complete genomes, both modern and ancient, to achieve an accurate understanding of the history of this bacterium.