Home / Funny / Viral / Rare Ceramic Head Uncovers Previously Unknown Roman Settlement In Britain


In 43 CE, the Roman Empire made its first incursion into Britain, marking the start of an ongoing imperial presence that continued until the empire's collapse in the fifth century. Villas, baths, military camps, and, of course, Roman religion were all brought to the region during the Roman occupation. Numerous artefacts from the Roman era, including mosaics, bathhouses, and coins, have been found during excavations or building projects. A tiny ceramic head found recently at Smallhythe Place in Kent, England, suggests a previously undiscovered Roman settlement. An intriguing window into ancient Britain is provided by this rare clay find.

The site was being excavated by researchers in an attempt to find archaeological proof of medieval shipbuilding operations during the 13th and 15th centuries. They came upon a tiny white ceramic statue's head during this process. It shows Mercury, the Roman god of tradesmen and retailers, who is frequently seen wearing wings on his hat or sandals.

The head was made during the first and third centuries CE, during a period of Roman occupation that was previously unrecorded. It was originally affixed to a diminutive, transportable statue that was intended to be offered to a temple or utilised for domestic devotion. The statue might have cracked over the ages or been shattered during a ritual.

The head's composition makes the find exceptionally uncommon. "Pipeclay figurines were made of clays local to central Gaul (modern-day France) and the Rhine-Moselle region and were imported," reads a statement from the National Trust. "However, the majority of pipeclay figurines found in Britain are of female deities, the majority being of Venus." Not only is this discovery of Mercury wearing a winged cap, but it was also made of metal, as was customary in Roman Britain. 

Nathalie Cohen, an archaeologist at the National Trust, said, “Our excavations at Smallhythe revealed previously undiscovered Roman activity, dating from the 1st-3rd centuries [CE], where we found tiles stamped with the mark of the Roman fleet (the Classis Britannica), ceramics including an intact pot, and evidence for buildings, boundary features, and pits—which provide tantalising clues to the nature of this riverside community.”

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