Roman bricks and cat prints bring mystery to Fort Vancouver

A grad student visiting Fort Vancouver, Washington (USA) in 1982 noticed some bricks at the fort that didn't look like the others. Analysis later revealed that these bricks were made in Roman England.

While this sort of discovery often sparks calls to re-write the history of the discovery of the New World, the bricks have been given a more mundane explanation. It is believed the bricks were imported from England by the Hudson Bay Company, and were probably brought over as ship's ballast.

The fort was built in the 1820s. The Hudson Bay Company utilized its international trade route to build the fort: along with both English and local bricks, the mortar was made with coral from Hawaii.

Adding to the intriguing find is a pair of cat's prints embedded on one of the Roman bricks. Whether this conclusively extends the dominance of the Roman Empire - or cats - 2,000 years forward in history remains to be seen. [photo]