LIN-6F31A1: Limestone figurative carving, probably an altar piece depicting a naked man

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

Rights Holder: The Portable Antiquities Scheme
CC License:

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Unique ID: LIN-6F31A1

Object type certainty: Certain
Workflow status: Published Find published

Statuette carved out of local Oolitic limestone, and is likely to have been a miniature altar. The Statuette depicts a naked man with his right arm across his chest. In his left hand he is holding what appears to be an axe. The crude design of the figurine would also suggest that it is of a deity who has fertility or renewal qualities attached to him. The depiction of the figure is quite Celtic in style, however Roman influence can be seen in the surrounding archway. We could perhaps make a link between this statuette and two other important inscriptions found very closely in Ancaster itself (Whitwell, 1992, p125). Both of the inscriptions date to around the same time as the statuette and display both Roman and Celtic influences. The inscriptions found in Ancaster would both originally have formed part of an archway into a Romano-Celtic temple, and are dedicated to the god Viridios or Viridius. Apart from these two inscriptions from Ancaster, Viridios is not known from any other part of the world, and so it is likely that Viridios was a local tribal god.
Timeteam found the latest inscription to Viridios in 2001 when excavating a site in Ancaster. The meaning of the name Viridios is not very clear, however it has been suggested that it might mean 'the fertile green god', 'virile god' or just 'mighty' or 'powerful'.
Although the statuette carries no inscription, the features displayed on the god appear to fit the potential meaning of the name. The statuette clearly depicts symbols relating to fertility and might, and it may be that this is a representation of the Romano-Celtic god Viridios.
Romano-Celtic religion is difficult to assess, as there is very little surviving literary evidence. Also, in the absence of any unitary Celtic nation there was no centrally organized religion, and worship tended to be localised at the tribal level . Similar style statuettes and carvings are known from other parts of Roman Britain, in particular some of the carvings from the Cotswold region (Henig, M. 1993, p43, pl.33), especially Chedworth environs, and also very like some of the carvings from forts like Maryport in Cumbria. A very close parallel from Chedworth Villa, Cirencester, carved out of Oolitic Limestone is depicted holding a circular shield and perhaps an axe in his left hand, and a spear in his right (ibid, p43, pl.33). Another example again from Chedworth, holds a spear and an axe, and also bears an inscription. [L]EN(o) M(arti) has been read above the inscription, possibly relating him to mars, although the inscription cannot be read to any real certainty (ibid., p42, pl.32, #126).
These local gods and goddesses are often thought to be pre-Roman woodland spirits, usually unique to their geographical location, however as with the Sudbrook carving, later representations of these tribal spirits often portray traits to show that they have been paired with individual members of the pantheon of classical deities. The Roman god mars is often portrayed holding an axe, however in this case the association is fairly tenuous.

Class: limestone

Subsequent actions

Subsequent action after recording: Returned to finder


Broad period: ROMAN
Period from: ROMAN
Period to: ROMAN
Date from: AD 43
Date to: AD 200

Dimensions and weight

Quantity: 1
Length: 190 mm
Width: 114 mm

Personal details

Recorded by: Dr Adam Daubney
Identified by: Dr Adam Daubney

Materials and construction

Primary material: Stone
Manufacture method: Hand made
Decoration method: Engraved
Decoration style: Figurative
Completeness: Uncertain

Spatial metadata

Region: East Midlands (European Region)
County or Unitary authority: Lincolnshire (County)
District: South Kesteven (District)
Parish or ward: Ancaster (Civil Parish)

Spatial coordinates

4 Figure: SK9744
Four figure Latitude: 52.984571
Four figure longitude: -0.556584
1:25K map: SK9744
1:10K map: SK94SE
Grid reference source: From a paper map
Unmasked grid reference accurate to a 1000 metre square.

Discovery metadata

Method of discovery: Building work
General landuse: Other
Specific landuse: Unknown

References cited

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Timeline of associated dates

Audit data

Recording Institution: LIN
Created: 15 years ago
Updated: 2 months ago

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