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Unique ID: GLO-452F33

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Awaiting validation Find awaiting validation

A Roman copper alloy figurine of an owl. The owl stands atop a sub-cylindrical pedestal that has a narrowed waist with an expanded base that forms a wide flanged rim. The interior of the pedestal is hollow and the underside of the flanged rim is rough, suggesting that it mounted atop something. 

The bird stands with spread legs, the right leg is slightly shorter than the left coursing the bird to lean slightly to the right. The feet are detailed with three claws, the legs have a thick oval cross-section that expand to the body and are detailed with recessed cross hatched lines. The bird is stands upright with a curving breast that is decorated with feathers shown as rows of multiple semi-circles each containing radiating lines. The tail projects to the rear and is decorated top and bottom with several linear grooves depicting tail feathers.  Furled wings are laid over its back, these are decorated with multiple tight curvilinear grooves, although their extent is difficult to discern owing to wear. The sub-circular head has a pronounced brow ridge decorated with vertical grooves. Below, the eyes are hollow circles that would have mounted inlayed eyes.  In between the eyes is the beak that is short and pointed with a horizontal grove that runs down both sides.

There is a circular hollow (3.3mm in diameter) above the right leg, most likely from the manufacturing process. A small patch of iron corrosion above the left leg and a small patch of iron corrosion in the centre of the back and top of the head, the latter look as if it was a pin.

A strong parallel is a standing owl from Willingham Fen which has an almost identical pose and stands on a very similar pedestal (Salway, 1993, 488). This example was thought to surmount a ceremonial sceptre or mace. Green also recorded a second owl figurine Chester (Green, 1978, p52 plate 65). These owls also share enamelled inlaid eyes and are believed to be religious or cult statues. Owls were associated with the goddess Minerva (Athena in Greece) (Green, 1978, p. 52 and 210).

A similar object was recorded on this database from Wales at (NMGW-DAED29).

Green, M.J., 1978. Corpus of Small Cult Objects From The Military Areas of Roman Britain. Oxford : British Archaeological Reports 52.

Niblett, R. et al. 1999. The Excavations of a Ceremonial Site at Folly Lane, Verulamium. London: Britannia 14.

Salway, P, 1993, The Oxford Illustrated History of Roman Britain, London:BCA,

Find of note status

This is a find of note and has been designated: Potential for inclusion in Britannia

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 43
Date to: Circa AD 410

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 41 mm
Height: 68 mm
Width: 24 mm
Diameter: 41 mm

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Wednesday 21st July 2021

Personal details

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Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Manufacture method: Cast
Completeness: Complete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Gloucestershire (County)
District: Cotswold (District)
To be known as: Cotswolds

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: From finder
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Character undetermined

References cited

No references cited so far.

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: GLO
Created: 4 months ago
Updated: 4 months ago

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