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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Rare Roman souvenir is acquired in unique agreement by three British museums - Archive Material

The pan, although lacking its handle, is an extremely well preserved enamelled and inscribed bronze trulla dating to the Roman period. It was made both as a functional vessel and as a 'souvenir' of Hadrian's Wall, and is a find of great national and international significance. Uncovered by a metal detectorist in Staffordshire in June 2003, it was promptly reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme who drew the attention of relevant museums to the find.




The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan, adapted from photos by S.Laidlaw, IOA.

The shared acquisition of the pan will mean that people across the country will be able to admire and enjoy this remarkable object. It will enable the pan to be seen in the context of the original find site, of Hadrian's Wall and as part of the foremost collection of Romano-British material in the UK. The pan will be displayed initially in the British Museum, it will then travel to the Potteries Museum for display during 2006 and to Carlisle for 2007. Replicas of the pan are being made as part of the acquisition grant to ensure that when the original is at one venue, a representation of the pan can still be displayed at the other venues.


The inscription rendered in black and white.

Kate Clark, Heritage Lottery Fund Deputy Director, Policy and Research, said:
"This two thousand-year-old souvenir of Hadrian's Wall is a very special part of our past and one which people across the country should have the chance to see. This unique sharing scheme is exactly the sort of innovative joint working that the Heritage Lottery Fund wants to encourage UK museums to undertake".

Hilary Wade, Director of the Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery in Carlisle, commented:
"This is a wonderful 'icon' to focus on the rich Roman heritage of Carlisle and the western end of Hadrian's Wall. Tullie House looks forward very much to displaying it in 2007 and to working with our new partners".

Ian Lawley, Stoke-on-Trent City Council's Head of Museums said 'The joint acquisition of the Staffordshire Moorlands Pan by the three museums is truly trail-blazing. It marks a new era in co-operation between National and regional museums and will enable this enormously significant national treasure to be seen and enjoyed by a large number of people at all three venues. We hope that this will be the first of many such partnerships'.

Ralph Jackson, Curator of Romano-British collections at the British Museum in London added:
"This little gem of British craftsmanship, a unique find of the greatest importance, shows us that Hadrian's Wall was as famous in the Roman world as it is today. Visually striking and replete with fascinating information, it is a most notable acquisition for the nation".

The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan dating to the mid 2nd century AD the pan is intricately decorated with a band of Celtic-style roundels. Spectacularly colourful, the roundels are inlaid with red, blue, turquoise and yellow enamel. The pan at its widest diameter is 94mm and it weighs 132.5g. Immediately above the band of roundels is an engraved inscription which lists four forts on Hadrian's Wall:

MAIS (Bowness-on-Solway)
COGGABATA (Drumburgh)
VXELODVNVM (Stanwix)
CAMMOGLANNA (Castlesteads)

The mention of Drumburgh is interesting as this is the first time the name of this fort has been found on a Wall souvenir. The other part of the inscription is the most significant and reads RIGORE VALI AELI DRACONIS. The first ten letters appear to be a direct reference to Hadrian's Wall. The remaining letters may be interpreted as the personal name Aelius Draco (or Dracon) which may be that of the person it was made for, perhaps an officer whose command related to the Wall. Draco is a Greek name, suggesting an origin in the eastern Roman Empire. 'Aelius' is Hadrian's family name and would have been traditionally adopted by anyone obtaining Roman citizenship under his rule. This is the first time that a personal name has been found within the inscription on such a vessel. Further research on the inscription is being undertaken and may reveal yet more information about the find and about life in and around the Wall itself, the most potent symbol of the Roman province of Britannia.



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