Piercebridge, County Durham (Dr Philippa Walton)


The ram figurine from Piercebridge. The ram was associated with the god Mercury, in his role as guardian of flocks and herds.

Over the past thirty years, two divers have recovered a large body of Roman material from the bed of the River Tees at Piercebridge, County Durham. This assemblage clearly represents an extremely important Romano-British votive deposit dating to the second and third centuries AD. Whilst other watery votive deposits are known from Roman Britain, notably those from the Sacred Spring, Bath and Coventina’s Well, Piercebridge is unique in terms of the range of objects represented. A full range of functional categories of material are present from objects of personal adornment to militaria, votive miniatures to medical equipment. Many of these objects appear to have been mutilated or deliberately broken. A full study of the material, culminating in a British Museum Press Special Research Publication on the assemblage will transform our understanding of Roman material culture in northern Britain and of the development of Romano-British religion. This study will also augment our knowledge of Roman Piercebridge, impacting on current theories regarding the role of the army in its foundation and growth and potentially illuminating the relationship between the fort, ‘vicus’ and the various ‘bridge’ structures crossing the River Tees. The project is extremely grateful for the financial support offered by the Roman Research Trust in 2013, which has enabled a programme of specialist study on the pottery, glass and leatherwork assemblages to begin and has assisted with the costs associated with photography and illustration of objects for publication.

For more information on the progress of the project, please visit www.finds.org.uk/blogs/piercebridge

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