Ancient Roman Pan Offers Valuable Insights At Arbeia Roman Fort

By 24 Hour Museum Staff | 04 January 2008
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a photograph of metal bowl with a colourful decoration and inscription around its side

A band of Celtic-style curvilinear decoration adorns the wall of the vessel. Courtesy British Museum, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Tullie House

An ancient Roman pan, which was made sometime after AD 122 but was only uncovered in 2003, is to go on display at Arbeia Roman Fort on Saturday January 5 2007.

Unearthed by a man using a metal detector in the Staffordshire Moorlands, the pan is a tiny cast copper-alloy bowl missing its base and handle and shows exceptional craftsmanship.

It will go on display until April 27 2008 alongside a selection of enamelled finds from Arbeia, and staff hope it will offer visitors valuable insights into the history of Hadrian’s Wall as Alex Croom, Senior Keeper of Archaeology and Curator at Arbeia Roman Fort, explained.

a photograph of metal bowl with a colourful decoration and inscription around its side

An engraved inscription suggests the pan might have belonged to somebody called Draco. Courtesy British Museum, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Tullie House

“Although the pan is a small object, it can tell us a great deal about life on Hadrian’s Wall,” said Alex. “The inscription on the pan names four of the westernmost forts of the Wall; it is the earliest naming of the fort Congabata.”

“Hadrian’s Wall is possibly named for the first time here (Aelius was Hadrian’s family name), which tells us that the pan was made after AD 122.”

An inscription on the pan suggest it might have belonged to somebody called Draco and the small exhibition also questions who Draco was and what relevance the pan had to him.

“We are extremely interested in who this character was and what the pan meant to him,” added Alex. “Did he make the pan or was he the man for whom the pan was commissioned?”

a photograph of metal bowl with a colourful decoration and inscription around its side

The pan may have been an offering to the river gods, as its burial site overlooks a river valley. Courtesy British Museum, Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Tullie House

A band of Celtic-style curvilinear decoration dances around the wall of the vessel and there is a vibrantly coloured enamel inlay around the engraved inscription.

The find came in through the Portable Antiquities Scheme, a voluntary scheme that allows members of the public to record archaeological objects found in England and Wales by reporting them to a local Finds Liaison Officer.

The pan has been jointly acquired for the nation by the British Museum, The Potteries Museum & Art Gallery and Tullie House, Carlisle.

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