Archaeologists working on a Cockermouth site uncovered some "particularly spectacular finds" in the final days of their nine-week project.

The nine-strong team of experts has been working in riverside fields off Low Road and behind the Lakes Home Centre.

The Ecus team, from Barnard Castle, was called in by landowner Bob Slack who is keen to put some flood defences in the area.

In the first few weeks they discovered evidence of a Roman foundry, marching camp and small village, said Mr Slack.

They later discovered a bust, steelyard weight, coins, pottery and also the foundations of a building and flagged floors.

In the final week they came across a copper-alloy incense container, which Ecus project officer Julie Shoemark described as "an exceptionally rare find".

"The site has produced a wealth of information about the Roman inhabitants of the vicus and last week revealed some particularly spectacular finds," she said.

"Firstly, we have a highly polished tiny stone figurine which has unfortunately not survived intact. What remains depicts a naked male rendered in typically 'Romano-British' style with simply carved large almond eyes and a distinctive spiked hairstyle.

"Secondly, a stone sculpture of a seated female figure was recovered from a rubble deposit. She has unfortunately lost her head, however, enough remains to tell us who she is.

"She wears a pattered mantle and carries a patera (a shallow bowl used for libations) in her right hand and a cornucopia containing an ear of wheat in her left. These attributes identify her as the goddess Fortuna, the goddess of luck, but also closely associated with the harvest in agricultural communities."

The most striking find was a copper-alloy balsamarium (incense container).

"This is an exceptionally rare find, being one of only a handful excavated in Britain to date," said Ms Shoemark.

"It is in the form of a bust of the youthful Bacchus, the god of wine, although the features appear to have been modelled after depictions of Antinous, the lover of the Emperor Hadrian.

"In addition to being exceptionally rare, this artefact is in superb condition, missing only the lid which would have sat atop the head."

The only other example of a balsamarium of similar design was recovered from the River Eden, Carlisle and is on display at Tullie House.

Times and Star: Landowner Bob Slack and archaeologist Eddie Dougherty on the site Landowner Bob Slack and archaeologist Eddie Dougherty on the site (Image: Newsquest)

Bacchus is most widely known as the god of wine making, but is also associated with agriculture, particularly orchards, and fertility.

"We previously had an exquisite steelyard weight depicting Silenus, the satyr companion of Bacchus, so we now have a nice group of finds carrying the running theme of agriculture and fertility, which would have been central to the lives of this community," said Ms Shoemark.

"Together these and the other artefacts from the excavation are allowing us to build a picture of the history of the site and its inhabitants.

"We look forward to sharing the full results following specialist research and assessment of the assemblage in due course."

The land, which will be covered with soil and reseeded, is in a flood zone so cannot be developed. Mr Slack has planning permission for 27 homes adjacent to the Lovells development on Low Road.