Interior decoration at Lincoln’s Roman baths

Bath houses are ubiquitously Roman structures – part of the suite of public buildings that defined a Roman town and indicative of an attitude to cleanliness and socialising that became one of Rome’s primary cultural exports. Only one public bath house is currently known in Lincoln, though it is possible that others await discovery. Excavated in the late 1950s, the complex is only partially understood and has never been published, but I want to focus here on the evidence we have of the interior decoration of the floors and walls of its various rooms. Continue reading

Of Hercules and Proserpina: classical mythology in Roman Lincolnshire

Let’s face it, the average person in Roman Britain wasn’t sat around in a toga in an expensively decorated villa reading the works of Virgil. The level of knowledge of classical literature and mythology in the province is a fascinating subject though, as we get occasional tantalising glimpses of a level of education and understanding that might be considered above average. Continue reading

Offerings for the smith god? Vulcan finger rings from Lincolnshire

Of all of the depictions of deities from Roman Britain, finger ring intaglios offer some of the greatest variety, but are also perhaps the easiest to overlook. These miniature works of art were extremely portable, cost effective to trade across large distances, but also easy to lose. The distribution of their findspots has therefore not typically been seen as a reliable indicator of the spread of religious belief. After all, a finger ring could easily slip off the finger while working, or as seems to have been the case at the baths at Caerleon, hot water could make the intaglio come loose from the ring itself. Apart from where they are discovered in a specifically religious context (for example the quantities found at Bath), the find of an intaglio depicting a specific deity cannot automatically be said to represent the worship of that deity in that vicinity, or even that the original wearer particularly venerated that deity. Continue reading

Pugio-a-go-go: A decorated legionary dagger sheath from Lincoln

I often get asked what my favourite Roman artefact from Lincolnshire is. It’s a very difficult question to answer as there are so many wonderful objects and monuments to choose from, all fascinating in their own way. The pugio (dagger) sheath I’d like to discuss in this post, though, would definitely be well up there in my top 10. Although not a new find, it’s an amazing object and well worthy of being known about more widely. Continue reading

Roman stone floor unearthed at Lincoln’s Eastern Bypass excavations

The ongoing excavations at Lincoln’s Eastern Bypass have produced some incredible multi-period archaeology. I have discussed some of the Romano-British findings in various earlier posts (see below), but the excavations continue to reveal more of the Roman structures and activity. The latest update from the site is of the discovery of an impressive stone floor surface. Continue reading