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Carved Stone

                         

This stone was found in 1912 in the foundation of a wall of the mansio, which was built in the second century AD, replacing an earlier timber building. The stone depicts a halved circle, which may be a shield, and two heads facing each other. The heads seem to have curving horns like ram’s horns rather than ears, and they are probably gods.

Horned gods, with ram’s, stag’s or bull’s horns, were worshipped across Britain and Europe in prehistoric times and during the Roman period. Roman religion was not exclusive, but absorbed local gods, who were sometimes identified with Roman gods. The horned god was sometimes equated with Mars, the warrior god. The horned gods at Wall might already have been worshipped by people living here when the Roman army arrived, or might have been a cult brought by the soldiers garrisoned in the forts here, who were recruited from another part of the Roman Empire. 

More carved stones were found at Wall in excavations of the mansio in the 1970s. They had all been built into the foundations, where they wouldn’t have been seen, and were all upside down, perhaps to avert bad luck. The carvings include figures holding shields, a figure holding a club over a head, a head in a niche, and a screaming head. The stones must have been in a shrine that was dismantled when the mansio was built. A well or shaft within the timber building preceding the mansio might also have been a religious structure.

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