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

Casting doubt on coinage: ceramic coin counterfeiting moulds from Lincolnshire

For as long as there have been coins there have been people willing to risk the, usually severe, penalties for counterfeiting them. Unofficial versions of Roman coinage are regularly found across the Roman Empire, sometimes the output of con-artists seeking to defraud, and sometimes products of necessity to counter a wider shortage of low value coinage. This latter type of counterfeiting was perhaps sanctioned by the authorities, or at least had a blind eye turned to it. 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 close scrape for Lincoln’s Newport Arch

Lincoln’s iconic Newport Arch, the 3rd Century northern gateway into the Roman city, famous for being the only Roman gateway in Britain still used by traffic, had a lucky escape today after being struck by a lorry. The incident serves to remind us of the potential cost of the pleasure of being able to drive under such an ancient entranceway. 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

The Ninth Legion, the Boudican revolt and the founding of the Lincoln fortress

The Ninth Legion occupy a unique place in the mythology of the Roman army, their alleged ‘disappearance’ in the 2nd Century AD the subject of much speculation and some outlandish fiction. One incident earlier in their history, however, recently piqued my interest while preparing for a lecture – the massacre they allegedly suffered during the revolt of the Iceni under Boudica in AD60/61, and in particular how it might have affected the mindset of the legion as it subsequently established its new fortress at Lincoln. Continue reading