A previously unidentified giant from Roman Lincolnshire

No, this isn’t a post about very tall people, but about mythological giants – the race of creatures in Greek and Roman mythology who played an important role in the story of the establishment of the Olympian pantheon. They are not commonly encountered in a Romano-British context, but are depicted on one of Lincolnshire finest mosaics and on a previously unidentified copper alloy statuette which I believe also represents a giant. Continue reading

Worshipping the party god – evidence of Bacchus in Lincolnshire

I posted a little while ago about a candlestick find from Branston with possible connections to the god Bacchus, and I want to follow up on that subject here by looking at the other artefacts from Roman Lincolnshire with connections to the Roman god of wine and revelry. 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

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