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

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

Marcus Aurelius Lunaris, the travelling imperial priest

One of the enduring fascinations of the Roman period is that the surviving literary evidence allows us to delve into the lives of individual people in a way that we simply cannot do in other eras.  The works of great authors such as Suetonius, Plutarch, Tacitus, Martial and Cicero provide us with a deluge of colourful and characterful evidence of daily life and the social and political interactions between individuals. Continue reading