Curators' Choice: The Roman eagle sculpture found by Museum of London Archaeology

| 30 October 2013
A photo of a female conservator in a white overall caring for a Roman carving of an eagle
Conservator Luisa Duarte, of Museum of London Archaeology, takes a look at an extraordinary eagle© MOLA / Andy Chopping
Louise Davies, MOLA Project Manager: “As an archaeologist it’s a dream to find such a beautiful sculpture. The fact that we found it on the last day of the dig was a real bonus.”

Simon Davis, MOLA Project Officer: “When the sculpture was lifted we were astonished. It was in such good condition we couldn’t quite believe that it was Roman and some 1,900 years old.

Needless to say, there was a lot of excitement within the MOLA team.”

Antonietta Lerz, MOLA Archaeologist: “We were in the final few hours of the excavation when the sculpture came out of the ground, covered in soil and unrecognisable.

As it was cleaned up, first a wing and then a claw became apparent. As the eagle became clear I was very excited and somewhat astounded at the wonderful condition of the sculpture.”

Reverend Professor Martin Henig: “The sculpture is of exceptional quality, the finest sculpture by a Romano-British artist ever found in London and amongst the very best statues surviving from Roman Britain.

Its condition is extraordinary; the carving as crisp as on the day it was carved. All it has lost is the surface paint, probably washed away when it was deposited in a ditch.”

Caroline MacDonald, Museum of London Senior Curator of Roman London: “What I love about this discovery is what it reveals about London 1,900 years ago.

Here is a city of around 30,000 people where the mechanics of life are intertwined with the mythical.

One Roman Londoner climbs the social ladder and leaves a family rich enough to mark their passing with an extraordinary piece of art.

Meanwhile this magnificent eagle protects the deceased, frozen in an eternal struggle to hold evil at bay. It is money and magic captured in stone.

I can’t wait to see it on display at the Museum of London for the public to see”.

  • The eagle is on display for six months at the Museum of London - from October 30 2013.

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superb find.congrats to the team.very inspiring from a history
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