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

An unusual ceramic mould from Lincoln’s forum colonnade

The discovery of the eastern colonnade of Lincoln’s forum in 1878 still ranks as one of the most important archaeological finds in the city’s history. When George Allis began digging the foundations of a new house on Bailgate in late April 1878, he could little have suspected that he would soon be discovering the base of a large, sandstone Roman column, or that further work would eventually lead to an entire colonnade of 19 such columns, subsequently to be understood as the eastern edge of the town’s forum. This dramatic discovery is worthy of a blog post in itself at some point in the future (I use a photograph of it as the header image for this blog), but here I want to focus on just one rather unusual object discovered during the excavations – a ceramic mould depicting a side-on female portrait. Continue reading

A previously unidentified Roman miniature votive shield

Some archaeological finds are instantly recognised for what they are, but others can remain a mystery for decades, waiting for their true identity to be revealed. I recently came across just such an object in the Lincoln museum stores. Described simply as a ‘bronze decorated sheet’, I believe that it is a much more fascinating object than that – a hitherto unidentified example of a late Iron Age or early Romano-British miniature votive shield. Continue reading

An offering to Bacchus? An unusual copper alloy candlestick from Branston

My previous post looked at the fascinating memorial to Aurelia Concessa from Branston, and I’d like to do something of a follow up post here by highlighting another significant find made not too far away from it. This particular object is a complete copper alloy candlestick – a rare find from Roman Britain, and one with potential religious connotations. Continue reading

Aurelia Concessa – Branston’s virtuous girl

In 1964, an interesting Roman inscription was discovered during ploughing at Branston, four miles southeast of Lincoln. Of ‘ansate’ form (referencing the handle-like decorative elements either side of the inscription), the stone measures 92cm x 50cm and forms a monument for a girl named Aurelia Concessa. Continue reading

For the public good? Euergetism in Roman Lincolnshire

Towns in the Roman Empire did not develop primarily through centralised state support. Although certain actions, such as the construction of defensive walls, may have required specific imperial permission and in some cases received official support from the provincial government or army in the form of money or manpower, most public structures relied instead on the benevolence of prominent local citizens. This act of giving one’s own resources to improve the communal urban environment is known as ‘euergetism’. Continue reading

A rare example of painted Latin writing from Greetwell villa

The majority of the Latin encountered in Romano-British archaeology is in the form of formal inscriptions on stone – building dedications, tombstones, altars and such. Other writing survives on small finds, such as potters’ names stamped on vessels, personal names scratched onto metal objects or ceramics or as prayers or curses written on metal sheets. Very rarely, wooden writing tablets sometimes survive, such as the famous assemblage from Vindolanda and the increasing number known from London. One other category of writing, but not a common one, is messages written on painted plaster walls. Continue reading