1. Introduction

This article provides the first comprehensive study of Romano-British figurines from England, Scotland and Wales. In all just over 1000 figurines have been recorded, ranging in date from the 1st-4th centuries. The metal figurines of Roman Britain might seem to be a typically Roman import, representative of Roman culture and religion, but in reality they characterise the complexities of Romano-British life as lived by both immigrant and native populations. Their use in Britain, their deposition and the various deities depicted give us an insight into the religious practices of Roman Britain.

Although some animal figurines are thought to be of Iron Age date, anthropomorphic figurines were a Roman introduction. The very earliest Roman figurines to be found in Britain date to the last few decades of the 1st century BC; however, the majority were imported after the conquest. Some figurines were imported from Italy, but provincial products were soon being made and many of the figurines in Britain appear to have come from Gaul. In addition, Britain started to produce figurines itself and, over time, these started to exhibit native attributes.

Figurines from published sources, the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) database and museum collections were examined and these sources, along with the research methodology used, are detailed in Section 1.2. The majority of figurines are in bronze, but some other metals are also used. Section 2 explains the methods of production, how the various figurine types were identified and some of the problems associated with identification. The figurine types listed in the catalogue are presented in Section 3, the geographical and spatial distribution of the figurines is discussed in Section 4 and their chronology in Section 5. Throughout the text when discussing individual figurines the catalogue number follows the name of the deity (e.g. Jupiter 2). However, when more than one figurine is discussed the catalogue numbers may be listed within parentheses (e.g. the group from the River Thames in London (4, 9, 10, 11 and 12).


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