Question for my Readers! – Is this just good History Preservation, Our right to Cultural Heritage, or Tomb Robbing? ** DB
Three years since it was discovered during excavations on an ancient cemetery, a rare bronze Roman cockerel has been given a permanent home.
The 2nd century figurine is believed to be one of only nine ever found in the Roman Empire, and is part of a new exhibition at the Corinium Museum in the Cirencester.
Other finds on display include a hoard of almost 1,500 Roman coins, and the perfectly preserved vase it was found in.
This bronze and enamel cockerel was found in a child’s grave in Roman Cirencester in 2011 – and has been painstakingly restored. It is now on display at the Corinium Museum
Archaeologists made the discoveries three years ago while excavating a western cemetery at the former Bridges Garage site on Tetbury Road in Cirencester – or Corinium as it was known when it was the second largest town in Roman Britain.
The bronze and enamel cockerel was said to have been placed in the grave of the two-year-old Roman girl by her parents, and experts believe it was used to ask the Gods to protect her.
They also believe the expensive gift was placed in the grave to ease their daughter’s transition into the ‘next world’.
‘It is the most significant Roman cemetery investigation in the town since the early 1970s,’ said a spokesman for the town’s Corinium Museum.
‘The cockerel found underneath the former Bridge’s Garage site – now St James’s Place – is one of only nine known cockerel figurines from the Roman world, and is the only example with its tail intact.
‘Displayed with the cockerel are an exceptional example of a Roman flagon and a selection of jewellery which include beads and bracelets found in a richly furnished child’s grave.
‘These are high status objects, which give a fascinating insight into the people of Corinium.
Neil Holbrook, Chief Executive of Cotswold Archaeology added: ‘The cockerel is the most spectacular find from more than 60 Roman burials excavated at this site.
‘It was excavated from the grave of young child and was placed close to its head. Interestingly a very similar item was found in Cologne in Germany and it looks like they both could have come from the same workshop based in Britain.’
The Tetbury Hoard, also on display at the museum, contain 1,437 silver and copper-alloy 3rd century Roman coins.
‘The hoard is the museum’s first Roman Coin Hoard and comes from a fascinating period of political upheaval across the Roman Empire,’ continued the museum’s spokesman.
‘It was a time of rapid succession of rulers and usurpers. The coins themselves tell this story.
‘Depictions and inscriptions represent 12 emperors from just a 16 year period.’
The child was buried wearing hobnailed shoes and was accompanied by a pottery feeding vessel and the remarkable enamelled bronze figurine of a cockerel.
The cockerel is 5-inches tall (12.5cm) and the breast, wings, eyes and ‘comb’ are inlaid with enamel, which now appears blue and green.
There is a separately moulded tail plate, also enamelled, with ‘openwork’ decoration. The beak is shown open, in the act of crowing.