Roman-era Ft. Vancouver brick has paw prints

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by Keely Chalmers

NWCN.com

Posted on February 27, 2013 at 7:04 AM

Updated Wednesday, Feb 27 at 2:16 PM

VANCOUVER - A brick unearthed decades ago at Fort Vancouver is back in the spotlight.

The brick was first discovered buried in the ground on the site around 1950, but a recent analysis of its make-up now shows the brick dates back some 2,000 years, all the way back to the Roman Empire.

One of the most interesting aspects of the brick is what was likely not supposed to be on it.

If you look closely at one of its corners you’ll see two tiny paw prints. Archaeologists suspect it’s the work of an ancient Roman kitty cat.

“We kind of jokingly call it the ‘Celtic Kitty,’ jumped up on this wet brick probably close to 2,000 years ago and memorialized itself for all eternity,” said Bob Cromwell, an archaeologist at Fort Vancouver.

The big question: How in the world did this ancient brick end up in Vancouver?

Cromwell says it likely came over on an English ship where it was used as ballast, basically just weight to help balance the ship.

“Somebody in England basically recycled, or took apart, a Roman ruin or maybe a cobblestone road and it probably ended up as a ballast load in a Hudson's Bay Company ship,” said Cromwell.

The ancient brick is on display inside the Fort Vancouver National historic site.

Visitors can see the brick, but because it's being stored in a special climate-controlled room, they must make a viewing appointment.

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