WILT-75BBE1: Roman nail cleaner

Rights Holder: Salisbury and South Wiltshire Museum
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Unique ID: WILT-75BBE1

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

An incomplete Late Roman (AD 300-410) copper alloy nail cleaner with crescent-shaped lugs and simple punched decoration, possibly zoomorphic in style. It measures 60.86x(max)9.30x2.36mm and weighs 3.8g. It is broken across the top of the loop (which is in the same plane as the body) and is missing most of the bifurcated end.

The loop (diameter 8.23mm, internal 4.59mm, 2.36mm thick) extends from one end of a D-sectioned shaft, 4.16x2.17mm. At the base of the loop to either side of the shaft is a zoomorphic head with long curved snout. Eckardt and Crummy (2006, p.84) suggest this may represent a horse, although the lack of ears can also be perceived as bird-like. Each has a punched ring-and-dot eye. Between and extending from the inside of the loop is a rectangular notch 1.14mm wide and 1.88mm long. Directly below is another ring-and-dot stamp.

The shaft appears to have worn transverse incised lines at either end. It is c.11mm long.

At the other end, above the shoulders (widest part), are crescent-shaped lugs with a punched ring-and-dot between. Below the shoulders the body tapers to 3.17mm, where the bifurcated part begins. The break is old and the edges are rather worn here. The body is decorated with a larger ring-and-dot representation, the dot of which appears to be a deeply-punched ring-and-dot and the ring a circlet of tiny circular punches. Inside are four ring-and-dot punches arranged in a cross formation. This looks rather like an eye, with the two punched ring-and-dot side-by-side below acting as the edges of a jaw, which is formed of a vertical line of six punched ring-and-dot joined by a diagonal incised line between, and possibly looking like teeth. The top of the bifurcated end beyond possibly representing lips.

The object is plain to the reverse, and the body is 1.75mm in thickness.

(Mawer 1995, pp 63) suggests that the depiction of the fish can be seen as a Christian symbol, although fish and particularly salmon, are thought to have been amuletic symbols in Celtic and Roman mythology.

The punched ring-and-dot decoration suggests a Late Roman date and possible military association.

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Subperiod from: Late
Period from: ROMAN
Date from: Circa AD 300
Date to: Circa AD 410

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 60.86 mm
Width: 9.3 mm
Thickness: 2.36 mm
Weight: 3.8 g

Discovery dates

Date(s) of discovery: Saturday 31st March 2012 - Thursday 31st May 2012

Personal details

Found by: This information is restricted for your login.
Recorded by: Ms Katie Hinds
Identified by: Ms Katie Hinds

Other reference numbers

Other reference: Salisbury Museum Entry Form 3937

Materials and construction

Primary material: Copper alloy
Completeness: Incomplete

Spatial metadata

Region: South West (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
District: Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
To be known as: Pewsey

Spatial coordinates

Grid reference source: GPS (from the finder)
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Metal detector
General landuse: Cultivated land
Specific landuse: Operations to a depth less than 0.25 m

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: WILT
Created: 5 years ago
Updated: 5 years ago

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